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Good Samaritans brave B.C. snowstorm to help health workers, cyclists get to work

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As snow fell heavy across large swaths of southern Vancouver Island Tuesday morning, a hidden army of helpers were quietly working to ensure others could get to work on time.

Starting at 5 a.m. Nick Poulopoulos and a crew of 4x4 enthusiasts took to side streets, highways and snow-encrusted parking lots to get health-care workers to hospitals and care centres.

The legion of drivers use a Facebook page to coordinate rides for a variety of health-care professionals during major weather events.

Early Tuesday, Luc Gagnon, who works at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital, was thankful he knew about the social media group as he saw the snow piling high.

"I was stressed. I wasn’t sure how I was getting to work," Gagnon told CTV News. "I didn’t want to let my coworkers hang, but I needed to figure out a way. Luckily I saw the Facebook post and I got saved."

By noon, Poulopoulos with had traversed dozens of treacherous side roads and even taken a trip up the Malahat highway to get nurses and other health-care workers to their shifts on time.

"I don’t even care if it puts me out a few bucks of gas here or there," said Poulopoulos. "It’s just the appreciation you get from people. It’s hard to explain."

In an official press release from Island Health, CEO Kathy MacNeill singled out the 4x4 club Tuesday morning.

"We couldn’t take care of our patients and clients without you," she wrote.

BICYCLE-MOUNTED PLOW

As the December storm began to intensify Monday night, a Saanich, B.C., bicycle builder was about to test a new design of his own creation.

Philip Marciniak threw his leg over his latest creation and pointed his wheels towards the snow-covered Galloping Goose trail.

For several years, the Saanich electric bike builder has toyed with designs for a bike-mounted plow, and finally he says his latest incarnation is really clearing a path.

“I was compelled to get out and do some plowing," Marciniak said. "I know folks walking and cycling are often left to put up with some pretty bad conditions."

Several social media posts showing the large e-bike plow clearing snow on Saanich bike paths and sidewalks have picked up hundreds of views since Monday evening.

Marciniak says his latest split-shovel design is much easier to handle than his older designs. His e-cargo bike is equipped with two large show shovels in front of the front tire.

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