Kitchener training plow operators to work solo to accommodate more roads, bike lanes
A snow plow works to clear the road in Windsor, Ont., on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. (Chris Campbell / CTV Windsor)
Zayn Jinah, CTV Kitchener
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2019 4:35PM EDT
KITCHENER – It's only October, but the City of Kitchener is training its snow plow drivers to operate on their own to keep up with increased demand.
Snow plow drivers in their current capacity operate plows in teams of two. The city says the change will mean it can cover more space cost-effectively.
It's a concept that a number of other municipalities are already using.
Bob Underwood has been a plow operator for 27 years, but he says he likes the idea.
"It's easier, you don't have to rely on another person," he says.
The passenger normally works the position of the "wingman," who is normally in charge of keeping an eye on the wing and letting drivers know if there are obstacles in the way.
The city says that, despite initial concerns, having one-person crews has shown to be safer.
"We found over the two years of phasing this in, we're actually finding less accidents with the wing, and we think it's because the operator is in control of everything," explains operations supervisor Chris Cook with the City of Kitchener.
So why the change?
The city says its winter operations staff is in higher demand as the city continues to add to its roads, trails and bike lanes.
Kitchener is hoping to plow the extra paved surface without drastically increasing costs.
Plow operators say that the public can help with safety by following the city's street parking bans when they go into effect during snowfalls and by giving plows plenty of room.