Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

December 15, 2013

Cyclists plow ahead on sidewalks

TRAVERSE CITY — Ty Schmidt and Bob Otwell don’t see snowy sidewalks as an obstacle to climbing onto their bikes and taking a ride. Rather, they see a fresh blanket of powder as a good reason to pump their pedals.

That’s why the men spent most of last week huffing and puffing their way to clear sidewalks across the city. They’re part of a group of devoted riders who replaced lip service with leg work. And they’ve spent the past month pulling specially designed miniature snow plows behind their bikes.

“We almost did seven miles of sidewalks in an hour today,” Schmidt said one day last week. “I was drenched in sweat when I got home.”

Each morning, the cyclists depart from their respective Washington Street homes to crank their way along uncleared neighborhood sidewalks and sections of the TART trails.

The effort is the brainchild of TART board member Tom Auer, who built some of the prototype plows the group used, Otwell said.

The rigs resemble the large V-shaped plows strapped to the front of locomotives during winter months. Under the power of a strong rider, the wedges steadily throw snow to either side of their path.

The group’s organizers hope a few dozen volunteers will come forward to pull plows throughout the winter and clear dozens of miles of sidewalk each week at no expense to local governments.

”I’m just the puller,” said Schmidt who drags one of the plows each morning while he and his son, Carter, 9, ride their bikes to the nearby Central Grade School.

For more about the pedal plow crews, see page E1.

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