The Dryden Observer

Your Source for Dryden News

Where the rubber meets the road

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

Like anyone who has been recently converted to a new way of life, I have become an insufferable advocate of why everyone, absolutely everyone, should have winter tires on their vehicle.

This is a little coping mechanism I find myself engaged in whenever I spend a bunch of money on something and need to convince myself (and everyone else) I’ve done the right thing.

Fortunately, snow tires are not one of those things that inspire much buyer’s remorse. Like a really good mattress, or a professional grade camera lens, there are just some things in life you need to spend more money on.

It alleviates a certain sense of unease as you load your two-year old into the back seat for the trip to her grandparents’ rural home — a driveway in which I’ve come to dread with my vehicle’s ridiculously lousy stock all-season tires. It was starting to become a holiday tradition —half of my family pushing our SUV up my parents’ mostly flat driveway on Christmas Eve while hard frozen discs spin uselessly beneath us.

Tire experts say 7 degrees Celsius is the point at which all tires behave about the same, drop below that and all-season tires (designed for long wear) begin to lose the softness they need to maintain a good grip on the road. Add slush, snow or ice to the picture and your ability to maintain the necessary friction is further diminished.

I imagine my new tires like a pair of broomball shoes or like the specialized canyoneering boots I rented to hike upriver with confidence on slippery river rocks in the bottom of a slot canyon in Utah a few years back.

This past weekend on the polished ice streets of Winnipeg, my spouse’s late realization of the yellow light before her allowed for an impressive test of stopping distance.

But, if there is any real argument for why you should buy winter tires it may be that in these cash strapped times, the onus is increasingly on us to take our safety into our own hands.

Highway maintenance contracts that go to the lowest bidder invariably become focused around minimum service requirements to maintain profitability.

Maybe we all have bad memories, but winter highway maintenance doesn’t seem to be what it used to be — even over the relatively mild winters of recent memory.

On our city streets, can we rely upon our cash-strapped city to maintain the same level of service it always has? Will the same resources to clear and sand city streets in a timely fashion exist this winter as in years when we weren’t looking for operational cost savings.

Adopting an attitude of greater self-reliance, of looking after our own butts is the order of the day.

Maybe it always has been and I’m just now arriving at this place called responsibility.

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