Chattanooga’s Custom-Built De-Icer for Protected Bike Lanes Is Adorable

Photo and video: City of Chattanooga.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

As we wrote the other day, clearing snow and ice from protected bike lanes isn’t hard. It just requires some effort.

Fortunately for Chattanooga, Tennessee, that’s no problem. This winter, to keep their protected bike lane on Broad Street rideable through the snow, road crews there set up a Kawasaki Mule to trickle just the right amount of brine into the space between curb and planters:

As other cities have discovered, early de-icing treatments can be especially useful on protected bike lanes, because unlike cars, bikes don’t tend to splash liquid de-icers away when they pass through. And early de-icing is especially important, because bike tires don’t break thin layers of ice as they form. If you don’t de-ice a protected bike lane early in a big snow event, the lane could be out of commission for a day or more.

Tony Boyd, deputy director for Chattanooga’s operations team, said Wednesday that this was the city’s first attempt to create a machine for de-icing bike lanes and it’s working well so far.

“That Kawasaki Mule is used downtown to do a lot of our herbicide applications,” he said. “We just picked up a polypropalene tank from the co-op and had our shop mount it on a palette so we can take it in and out of the unit when we want to. … We built a PVC pipe in the shape of an upside-down T and then we just drilled the pipe in a way that it disperses the brine across the lane. That’s the way we do it with all our larger trucks too.”

Boyd credited street maintenance manager Ricky Colston with the design.

“It works out pretty well,” he said.

You can follow The Green Lane Project on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or sign up for its weekly news digest about protected bike lanes.

  • Boeings+Bikes

    Congrats to Chattanooga for using a little ingenuity. Here in NYC we are regularly told we can’t do something because Sanitation doesn’t have the right size vehicle – not that the right vehicle doesn’t exist or other accommodations couldn’t be made, just that because it’s a big city, no one cares to think about solutions.

  • Small cities don’t care to think about solutions either. Plus they get to say they have no money just because their pot is smaller (even though their expenses are smaller too).

  • BlueFairlane

    Considering that the entire state of Tennessee has maybe five salt trucks to begin with, this is pretty impressive.

  • MatthewEH

    It’s a bizarro-Zamboni!

  • Anne A

    Clever solution. I love it!

  • midringrider

    This is especially good because of cost, effectiveness and the vehicle is not special purpose so it can be used year round.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG