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Wet weather open thread

Posted by on December 9th, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Flooded bike lane and shoulder on N. Williams tonight.
(Photo © J. Maus)

I’m soaked! How about you?

That was the wettest ride I’ve had in recent memory. It’s been raining steadily here in Portland for hours and there are rivers rushing down bike lanes and in shoulders everywhere.

Use this post to share your experiences, tell others about flood spots and caution areas, share your tips, photos and so on. Here’s another photo taken on Williams a few minutes ago…

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  • SilkySlim December 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Very wet ride from downtown to Tabor, but not cold at all!

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  • Esther December 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I just reported this puddle to 823-SAFE: http://bit.ly/fzbgXB It continually blocks the bike lane on N Williams at Weidler, forcing bicyclists out into the car lane. I’ve reported it before but seen nothing change. Yesterday it definitely was filling up the entire bike lane, I’m glad I don’t have to go through it today and see how bad it is!

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    • Steven Vance December 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

      It’s not a car lane, but a mixed or shared lane. People riding bikes are allowed there, too.

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  • michael downes December 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Cleverly stayed home all day…….

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  • matt picio December 9, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Today is a great day to ride Tri-Met! Even when my rain gear was new, it couldn’t deal with this level of rain.

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  • Ed December 9, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Its not cold, so I don’t mind the rain. Just wish the car drivers are more mindful about not splashing the cyclists.

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  • coyote December 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    For reasons unrelated to weather, I drove today. I had forgotten how bloody tough it is to see out of a cage in the rain and dark. Be safe out there, even conscientious drivers may have a tough time seeing you.

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    • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 9:26 am

      Amen to that. I had to drive out to the coast and back on Tuesday for a parks meeting, and the rain on the way back made it really difficult to see. When my glasses fog up, I can remove them, and still see well enough to ride and avoid hazards. It’s somewhat more difficult to remove the windshield.

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  • graham December 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    There was at least a foot and a half of water on Hawthorn in the inner SE.

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  • KJ December 9, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    OMSI to Concordia 4:30ish pm- esplanade very wet and puddle/lakey with lots of water coming off the freeway overpasses. Williams was a giant parking lane river with the occasional corner lake, sketchy going. the lake at fremont(? second light after Broadway) was really huge, careful there.Going however was sooth sailing all the way home.
    my gloves became waterbags alas. I am very damp. but it was SUPER FUN.

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  • Red Five December 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    ha! so much for those bioswales. Everywhere I saw where one was installed the flooding was immense. Good job Portland!

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    • k. December 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

      You clearly don’t understand how those are supposed to work. They aren’t designed nor intended to handle the quantity of water we got from the sky yesterday.

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    • Steven Vance December 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm

      If that water instead went into the sewer, the flooding would be worse. And in people’s homes and businesses.

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  • BikerinNE December 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I love riding in the rain. Best day ever!

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  • zappafrank December 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Went from PSU to East Burn around 2pm. Good lord it was wet! Fun but wet. Bike lanes were good steady streams all the way down Madison.

    Also, did see a pretty big puddle over at Powell/26th covering part of the bike lane.. Pretty big splashes.

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  • Michael Tompkins December 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    I encountered a VERY big puddle past the Rose Quarter heading North on Interstate, right underneath the Broadway bridge. It seemed to be flooded to about a foot deep but it could have just been the wake from passing cars. This was at around 5:15pm, but I’d assume it’s just as flooded currently. I enjoy a good water/bike adventure, but I would seriously recommend avoiding this section of Interstate on your bike if at all possible.

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    • olivia December 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm

      We drove today, but normally bike on Interstate NB. Noticed that huge lake under the bridge. It looked deep and dangerous.

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    • aljee December 10, 2010 at 9:25 am

      I ran into that too. At first i tried to ride through it on my cargo bike, but then I took the lane. The motorists didn’t seem to mind. Aside from that, everything else was fine. It had mostly stopped raining by the time i was in piedmont. my shoes were and still are soaked, but my clothes were dry enough to wear after shedding the rain gear.

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  • P Finn December 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    SE 43rd & Brooklyn is a lake.

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  • jeremy nay December 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Yes, it’s dreadfully wet out there. This time of year there are many wet leaf piles on the roadside and they bank some impressive miniature lakes… watch out for those! Take it slow. And eat hot soup.

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  • Hart Noecker December 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Bioswales are supposed to flood. That’s the whole point of them.

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    • Red Five December 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      But the bioswales were flooded and causing lakes on the corners!

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      • Hart Noecker December 9, 2010 at 8:36 pm

        And there were hundreds of street lakes where there were no bioswales. What’s your problem with them? Would you rather all that runoff and oil and pollution go straight into our river?

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      • k. December 10, 2010 at 8:49 am

        The lakes are caused by clogged storm inlets. They have nothing to do with the bioswales. It’s best to not speak about that which you do not know.

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        • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 9:34 am

          The lakes are also caused by water volume. Portland’s combined system, even with the upgrades, does not have the capacity to deal with that much water at once. The National Weather Service is reporting 2.36″ of rain over the last 72 hours. With 134 square miles, that means the City of Portland (just the city limits, not including the other areas Portland’s sewer services) received 2.3 BILLION gallons of water in addition to normal sewage. Portland on a dry day processes about 200 million gallons per day, and in the last 24 hours it received 6 times that much.

          Clogging is a factor, but not the primary one.

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        • Hart Noecker December 10, 2010 at 8:17 pm

          And when the storm drains unclog, the water and chemicals goes straight to the river, whereas when the water drains into the bioswales, it is absorbed into the ground where microbes can break down pollutants. Knowing facts is fun, pally! You’re welcome.

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          • Red Five December 11, 2010 at 1:22 pm

            The Biofails have created more hazards for cyclists. They are unsightly, create a obstacles for cyclists, and make the flooding of streets worse than ever. Too many people from San Francisco coming here thinking they know whats best for Portland.

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        • Duncan December 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm

          while this may be true, lack of knowledge is what often keeps these discussions interesting.

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      • Augustus December 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm

        It is not actually the bioswales causing lakes but rather the lack of permeableness for the water to infiltrate. It is an infiltration issue caused by too much concrete and pavement (impermeable surfaces). The purpose of the bioswales is not to prevent flooding in this type of weather but to ‘treat’ or filter the water before it reaches the streams or aquifers.
        I’m not sure if your lack of understanding of the intention and function of them is why you are so negative about bioswales or not, but you are negative and portraying misinformation.

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  • h December 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Not too bad for me. When I hit the road. Rain let up and stopped. Some streets as well as Springwater path bit flooded. I got home mostly dry. Just my shoes got soaked.

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  • michweek December 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Riding tall and carrying a big stick. To clear sewer drain of course.

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  • Spiffy December 9, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    just my hands were soaked… I need new gloves…

    I was born wearing spats and a dickie… be prepared!

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    • cold worker December 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

      i was born with 20 bucks in my pocket…

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  • steved December 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Rode from Canby to Lake Oswego via the ferry, Mountain road, and Stafford. Lost of water on the road. Got soaked to the bone and loved every minute of it!

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    • Kt December 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm

      You must have been the guy my Mom saw yesterday! She wanted to tell you she thought your lights were GREAT, and THANK YOU for using them. She was able to see you with no problems even with the rain and ick.

      Lots of lakes out in the SW ‘burbs; Fanno Creek around Tiedeman flooded the park at the end of Katherine St, and 65th over in Rivergrove (aptly named, yesterday) was quite floody.

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      • steved December 14, 2010 at 4:30 am

        Yes, that was me with my DiNotte taillight. Since installing this taillight, I have noticed that automobile drivers have more time to adjust their path and will yield more room. Thanks for the feedback.

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  • C-Mac December 9, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Great ride up Terwilliger to OHSU this afternoon in the thick of the rain. As my shoes filled with water, I remembered my brand new Rivendell splats sitting warm & dry in a closet at home. D’oh!

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  • mello yello December 9, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    I was driving today in mcminnville…flooding over 99w caused water to be drawn into into the engine of cars with low intakes and stranded drivers tonight…the water was about a foot high but didn’t go pass the door sills of my lowered sports car

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    • jim December 9, 2010 at 11:36 pm

      You really don’t want water to get sucked into a cars air intake. That causes hydro-lock and will actually break the engine block causing thousands of dollars damage. Air gas mixture will compress in an engine, Water will not compress, kapow!

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      • jim December 9, 2010 at 11:37 pm

        lesser evil is water in the distributor, just remove the cap and dry it out and its ok

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        • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

          Modern cars have lots of issues like those – when I owned my Contour, Ford, in their infinite wisdom, located the alternator directly behind the passenger drive wheel. It got all the road spray, and I went through 3 alternators in 5 years.

          And got it fixed at the dealership on MY dime, so I guess Ford *did* know what they were doing.

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  • G.Tyler December 9, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Springwater to 205 path had a huge puddle right before crossing Johnson Creek Road, up to my shoes. Glad I sprung for the neoprene socks instead of shoe covers. Quit raining after I passed there, just had to dodge piles of leaves on Holgate.

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  • Wayne Myer December 9, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Fanno Creek has flooded Oleson Rd to the point where it has caused cars to stall. The current wasn’t bad when I hit it; you could probably bike through it safely enough if you don’t worry about your hubs and bottom bracket.

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  • K'Tesh December 9, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I gotta say, I love my new TriMet pass, it makes getting around (dry) a whole lot easier. OTOH, I’m limited in my speed and range by them. I need better wet weather gear…

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  • Jordan December 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Dropped my front wheel into “Lake Hawthorne” at the corner of Hawthorne and 12th and it went up to my hub. But all and all a very fun ride home.

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  • pkoonce December 9, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I biked in early and missed the rain. I biked home really late and missed the rain. No problems here.

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  • Alan December 9, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Great pics! They also serve to illuminate (‘scuse me) the front bike light thread.

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  • alice's adventures December 9, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    ahhhhhh! what a mess! i commuted between 3 jobs today, and somehow only got soaked at 2pm. But as I rode home down the Ankeny hill past Laurelhurst, there is a GIANT puddle (or lake) that I coasted halfway into with my feet lifted, and then realized it was pedal or fall over time. Thank goodness for my neoprene booties! Shoes are still dry, ankles up to knees soaked. Lake Ankeny :)

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    • steved December 10, 2010 at 4:28 am

      Please….Would like to know what brand of neoprene booties you use that kept your feet dry. My booties didn’t work so well. Thanks.

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      • G. Tyler December 10, 2010 at 9:00 am

        I have been using SealSkins, so far so good for me!

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      • alice's adventures December 12, 2010 at 11:39 am

        not sure what brand, but i think i found them at performance cycles!

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      • steved December 14, 2010 at 4:32 am


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    • NE Cyclist December 10, 2010 at 9:03 am

      I went down that hill aroun 7:30 pm and turned back. I did stop to watch a car go through – water over the hubcaps. Made turning around seem like a really good decision.

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  • boneshaker December 9, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    coming from beaverton to NE through the zoo I found a number of spots that were, by all means, flooded. At one point on Park St. in beavertron i looked down to see the tops of my feet disappear with each pedal stroke. wth? Yea lots of water. The rivers coming down from the top of the zoo.. both sides… was unlike i’ve ever seen it. 1/2 – 2/3rds of the road not only covered, but covered with running water… white caps & the like. Tonight was a wet one.

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  • jim December 9, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I would be more afraid of the cars than the puddles/ rivers.
    I noticed people at bus stops holding umbrellas sideways so cars don’t splash them.
    If you have a chance- clean the storm drain on your corner tomorrow

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    • jim December 9, 2010 at 11:46 pm

      If every house or business would take ownership of the stormdrain in front of their place we wouldn’t have 1/2 of the problem. The city dosn’t have enough crew to fix all the covered up drains

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      • resopmok December 10, 2010 at 1:13 am

        Honestly I’m not sure all the sewers have the capacity to deal with the volume produced by constant heavy rains like this, perhaps despite what the city would like to think. Not saying people shouldn’t do what you suggest, but no matter how many storm drains are kept clear I wouldn’t expect miracles.

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        • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 9:38 am

          They don’t. 6x normal system load, that’s well over their max capacity – see my other remarks up-thread.

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      • Ed December 10, 2010 at 9:39 am

        You are right about that. I clear out fallen leaves on the sewage drainage that’s the closest to my house. However, not all of my neighbors do that, and it creates small lake ponds all around except my side of the block. I’m pretty sure its required by law for the residents to do that, at least according to my real estate agent. Maybe it depends on the neighborhood.

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  • Zaphod December 9, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Flood *inside* the metrofiets as I had it in cafe mode vs the waterproof cargo mode. Spent an hour emptying and drying contents. Total mayhem. Noticed a two foot completely flooded street at NE 16th & Beech. Rode through it (on a different bike) for entertainment. Not a brilliant idea to submerge bearings but … stupidity can be fun sometimes.

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  • Lance P. December 10, 2010 at 12:35 am

    I’m not sure what everyone was talking about. During my bike in at 7:45 I didn’t even get a drop and my ride home at 6:10 was completely dry. Even a trip to the store at 10 was bone dry. But for some reason the streets have been soaked and flooded all day. Must be a broken pipe.

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  • resopmok December 10, 2010 at 1:09 am

    It started raining right after I got to work and stopped before I left for home, so I didn’t get soaked. My jacket and pants do well enough, so I always pack an extra pair of socks and gloves any day I think it might rain (which is most non-summer days). Saw some flooding on Fremont east of MLK on my way home but not much else as I ascended past Mt Tabor into Arleta.

    Keep in mind that the ground was already pretty saturated from recent rain, so anything heavy and extended like this is going to cause flash flooding, especially in areas of lower elevation or natural drainage routes. These can be hard to distinguish at times in the urban landscape, but they are still very real forces of nature. As always, operate your vehicle with due regard to the conditions for everyone’s safety. If you’re riding a bike, be as well lit and visible as possible (I have two lights both front and back) as those lights may be practically all that can be seen through a dark, rain-spotted windshield.

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  • Hart Noecker December 10, 2010 at 1:56 am

    Portland seems to view all weather as a crisis. It’s water, it’s not molten lava. Try living with weekly tornados in Kansas or monthly hurricanes in the Gulf, or even the three feet of snow north of the Great Lakes. Nothing here comes close. But maybe that’s the problem. Everything’s so safe and clean that the mildest event prompts people to rush to innernette to blog about their personal experience so that every will know how important it was.

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    • Horace Gumbopper III December 10, 2010 at 2:01 pm

      I don’t get why every time Portland has severe weather of any variety, there is a contingent of people, usually from other parts of the country, who has to decry the fact that we pay attention to it. Why is sharing our experiences with riding in it a bad thing?

      And why, for the love of god, does the fact that other places have more severe weather negate the impact severe weather has on Portland?

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    • CaptainKarma December 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      Coming from I-O-W-A, weather is what we talk about. The weather here is so boring that when it actually does *rain* or gosh darn it, *snow*, it’s something to talk about. It’s just talk, and that starts with “t” and that spells trouble, right here in River City. Oops, got me started on “Music Man”. ;-)

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    • Schrauf December 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm


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  • Jack December 10, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Nearly every intersection in the Hollywood neighborhood was flooded around rush hour. Interestingly, the traffic light at 42nd and Hancock appeared to be malfunctioning as a result. It was stuck on red in all directions.

    Not to say that I enjoy the suffering of others, but as I rode along splashing through puddles, I was delighted to be the only person not stuck in the traffic jam.

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  • alex toevs December 10, 2010 at 8:25 am

    on a midnight ride home for work i did find my self asking, “is it better to be dry or self righteous?”

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  • adam December 10, 2010 at 8:30 am

    the puddles were terrible. Felt like I had to ride in the middle of the street to avoid drowning.

    also, vision was really limited. today, I am staying in a watching the rain through my window. ride safely.

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  • Jimmy P December 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

    SW Moody down by the South Waterfront was completely flooded. I was on the sidewalk and was still in a few inches of water. Cars were up to their undercarriage in he road.

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  • VTRC December 10, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Rode in this morning from Mult. Village to Old Town. Rainy, but not torrential. No giant puddles to report.

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  • beth h December 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Decent raingear makes a rainy ride almost enjoyable.

    Note: the photo above shows a bicyclist who is barely visible compared to the car headlights behind him. Don’t assume that a yellow rain jacket will help you be more visible. At night, all colors fade to gray or black. Add more reflective piping or a safety vest; use brighter lights, add reflective flashes to your ankles and wrists (the latter make signaling easier to see).

    I rode to the gym (on Alberta) in a pouring rain last night, clad in rain jacket, pants and booties; and had few problems.

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    • craig December 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm

      Yep. I rode slowly through residential intersections where intersecting cars had the stop sign, and had two instances of cars not seeing me and proceeding against me as I rode legally on through. Riding slowly game me the chance to wave and get their attention.

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  • k. December 10, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Conveniently, there’s a Lucky Lab along almost all major commute routes these days. Raining to much? Stop off for a pint and wait till it abates. That’s what I did last night.

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  • davemess December 10, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I’m with Hart, the weather here is kind of laughable, as far as drama goes. It’s supposed to rain in Portland. And when it’s 45-50, what is the problem, besides a few puddles. I do find it odd though, that the city seems to be lacking proper drainage in some areas.

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    • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 9:52 am

      Portland’s issue is that all the weather is very mild. It *does* rain in Portland, much more frequently than most places, but the amounts are typically less than 1/10th of an inch. Locations east of the rockies get their rain in storms, 1/2 inch or more at a time – when Portland gets that much, it’s a big deal. It’s worse with snow – snow is infrequent enough here that there is little justification to maintain the equipment needed to clear it expeditiously, so any serious snowfall paralyzes Portland. “Serious” for Michigan would be 6″. For Buffalo, a foot. For Portland, anything over 3″ brings the city to a standstill.

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  • Owen December 10, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I rode through the flooding on N. Vancouver last night. I was in such a hurry I didn’t pay any attention to the cars turning around, OR the guy with the news camera, and before I knew it I was up to my hubs in water. Kind of fun actually (with all the rain gear).

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  • Bob_M December 10, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I too am with Hart. It is just water. Wet is no problem if one stays warm, and that is just a matter of appropriate clothing.

    riding takes more care and planning. Brakes become inefficient and traction iffy.

    There will be maintenance on the machines to make sure things are greased and lubed, cables dry and sliding freely (compressed air pushing tri-flo through the housings – repeat). I intend to take off my wheels and remove the tires so that I can cross-hatch the rims with a wire brush. Then also remove the glaze from the brake pads. I really want my brakes back.

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  • Ryan Good December 10, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I actually enjoy riding in the rain, so no problem there. My only complaint is that- with all the raingear- sometimes it seems as if I spend more time getting ready to ride that I do riding. Once I’m out there though it’s actually pretty fun. I’m fortunate too- we have showers at my office and I have extra dry everything (socks, underwear, shirts, pants, shoes- practically a whole wardrobe) in a file-cabinet drawer at work. That’s come in handy more than once, sometimes because something got wet, sometimes because I forgot, and occasionally because I spilled coffee or dropped pad thai on myself.

    Sometimes when I get to work after riding in the rain, I’ll e-mail my mom and say- “Hey Mom, remember all those times when I was little and you wouldn’t let me go ride my bike because it was raining? Well, guess what I just did!”

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  • Paulie December 10, 2010 at 11:18 am

    That was a fun commute home! My ride happened from about 4:15 to 5:15, and it poured the whole time. My rain gear kept me mostly dry, just a few wet spots where water came in through the front zipper, and because I haven’t washed my jacket for a few weeks.

    I had a blast! There were a few deep puddles where my feet were actually submerged at the bottom of the peddle stroke. But my booties (Sugoi brand, purchased at REI) kept my shoes almost completely dry.

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  • Bob December 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

    SW Moody, riding north from the OHSU tram was a lake. Hugging the slightly higher sidewalk was the only way through. Let’s hope that, when all the planned construction is finished, they’ll get that road right.

    New dimensions in amphibious commuting!

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  • Scott Batchelar December 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Just about the wettest bike ride I have ever taken, rode from PCC Cascade to Bike N Hike then home in the Pearl District.

    Found many Puddles and Rivers along my route which made for a crazy adventure, I think my favorite was the giant puddle at the Bridge across I-84 and Grand Avenue which force me out of the barely discernible bike lane all the way to the other side.

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  • beelnite December 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Bread bags under my shoe covers! Yeah! I don’t care how wet I get, just please lawd keep me feet dry!

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  • dutch December 10, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    This season reminds me how much I love commuting on tallbikes. I know my route well, and there were HUGE puddles that I knew were safe to ride thru. So much fun! One of them I swear I was in 2 feet of water (it was past my dropouts. Yet I stayed (relatively) dry.

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  • Rick Risemberg December 10, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    It doesn’t often rain down here in LA, but when it rains it’s often torrential. I’ve ridden many a flooded street in rush hour traffic. (Despite many millions spent on storm drains, there’s so much paving here that any moderate to heavy rain will cause spot flooding.)This year, though, we’ve been getting gentle Portland-like showers…much, much nicer!

    I use a rain cape, as it’s too hot here when its raining for jacket/pants–usually in the 50s & 60s. Fenders all year (oblivious water wasters sprinkling streets daily in spite of drought). In big rains the feet get wet, as even my residential street will fill up over the sidewalks. But only two or three months of the year, and then irregularly. If I lived in PDX I’d buy the booties, yah.

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  • eric December 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    when i went to pick up the car at 4:30 it was so rainy i could barely breathe, and all the downhill streets were creeks. Saw full, non-flooding bioswales, ponds mostly. By 5:30 when I left again to go BUI, it had stopped, and the most danger was from vehicle operators in “stuck in traffic” mode, where they go really slow and swerve into the bike lane because they don’t care. Honestly, I haven’t felt that scared by vehicle operators since I rode 12th SE NB on my city bike last summer.

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  • h December 10, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    i was more soaked this morning than yesterday. I missed last night downpour.

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  • Jay Hersh December 11, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Riding my bike makes me wet.

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  • Duncan December 11, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Hey folks- those little 1 led headlights are invisible at dusk or in the rain- same for the dim tail lights. get some real lights please!

    Also the other night on Hawthorne I counted 5 people with no headlights in ten blocks. This is the season for lights… so please put some good ones on your bike.

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