Sunday, March 02, 2008
Another weird little driving hazard in this, the weirdest of Madison winters
I was driving north on Allen Street yesterday. Like all of Madison's streets, it's narrowed by the snow, and as a car approached on the left I moved slightly to the right to give it room. That's when something suddenly nudged the car back to the left, toward the other car. I was going slowly, and it was just a gentle nudge -- nothing I couldn't control. If I had been going faster, it might have been a problem, but it wasn't.
Nevertheles, it's a weird, offbeat little mini-hazard in this weirdest of winters, and I thought I'd pass it on in case you haven't encountered it yet. What happened was that I bounced off a second, pseudo "curb" made of ice extending several feel out from the real curb, whch is buried under the accumulating snow. And it's easy to miss it, because it's not something you expect to be here.
It's a byproduct of the city street crews' effort to remove snow and ice from city streets. I don't mean to suggest they're doing anything wrong -- far from it. It's just a byproduct of their necessary work. The photo at right illustrated this a bit more clearly. As you can see, on streets like Allen Street, where they actually did succeed in carving away the accumulated ice and snow down to bare pavement, there's an ice terrace that extends from the side of the road out to where the plows cut away the ice. The edge is as sharp and vertical as a curb, between two and three inches high. Again, you don't expect it to be there. If you bump into it, which is easy to do because you're far from the real side of the road, it will bump back. And if it happens when the roads have refrozen and become slick, it could start a real skid.
Just passing it on.