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Stormy street conditions report for Monday, February 10th

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 10th, 2014 at 10:41 am

Stormy roads 2-10-14-5
Slush. Yay!
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

As we enter the fifth day of a major storm here in Portland, the snow that has accumulated since last week is now beginning to melt. Over the weekend, temperatures stayed below freezing and the metro area was covered in a layer of ice. Those conditions presented a set of challenges on their own. Now, with temps climbing just a bit above freezing, the Great Thaw has begun in earnest.

I rode from north Portland to downtown this morning and here's what I experienced...

Residential streets remain a big challenge to ride on. It's easier with larger, aggressively treaded tires; but for the most part a lot of snow and ice still remains. PBOT does not plow residential streets, and they don't get much auto traffic, so they will be the last ones to be clear of snow and become easier to ride. Neighborhood collector streets, like N Ainsworth shown below, are a bit better as long as you take the lane and ride in the wheel rut created by auto traffic.

Stormy roads 2-10-14-2
N Ainsworth looking westbound toward Interstate Ave.

One thing to note are the piles of snow forming in the transition zone between smaller and larger streets. I strongly advise putting a foot down and hiking your bike over those sections.

Once I got onto N Interstate, a larger neighborhood arterial, there was even less snow. Most of the bike lane and shoulder was still not rideable, so I tried to ride more quickly in a lane shared by more — and faster-moving traffic. As a general rule, as the streets get easier to bike on, they also come with a higher volume of faster moving auto traffic.

Stormy roads 2-10-14-3
Southbound on N. Interstate. Less snow and slush; but more people to share the road with.

Stormy roads 2-10-14-4
With the bike lane and shoulder full of snow, it becomes a test of sharing with others.
Stormy roads 2-10-14-7
Slush in the shoulder of Interstate, just before the Larrabee ramp.

The next challenge came as I tried to enter the bike path/sidewalk of the Broadway Bridge. The transition from street-to-ramp-to-path was full of dirty and loose snow, making it almost impossible to ride. The path itself was also slushy and tricky. It made me wonder whether PBOT might consider a special crew to clear key, non-auto connections like this bridge path.

Stormy roads 2-10-14-9
Not an easy transition from green bike lane to bridge path.
Stormy roads 2-10-14-8
It was slippery.

As I photographed the bridge path, I noticed other riders didn't even attempt to take it. They simply stayed on the bridge deck and shared the lanes with other road users.

Stormy roads 2-10-14-12
Stormy roads 2-10-14-13

Another key bike connection that could cause big problems during tonight's rush-hour is the northbound side of the Broadway ramp leading up to the bridge. As you can see in the image below, the street is in fine condition, but the bike path/sidewalk adjacent to it is not rideable. If people on bikes take the lane on the uphill this evening, there will be a major speed differential with other road users and it could be dicey. Perhaps this is another place where PBOT can send out a crew ASAP?

Stormy roads 2-10-14-16

Taking Broadway through downtown was relatively easy as most of the roadway is clear of snow and ice.

Even with less snow and ice on the roads, it appears that many people are still opting to not ride bikes. I only saw three people biking for my entire, four-mile trip. That's one of the lowest totals I can ever remember.

The last thing I'll note is that we're clearly in for some messy biking conditions for the next few weeks as the snow recedes and gravel remains in the bike lanes and shoulders.

Stormy roads 2-10-14-18
The detritus and damage from storms like this wreak havoc on our streets.

As per usual with these reports, please share your experiences and tips below. For more, up-to-the-minute information, follow @PBOTInfo on Twitter. They've been doing a great job posting conditions, photos, and official notices throughout the day.

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Comments
  • Ian February 10, 2014 at 10:46 am

    The conditions on the Broadway/Steel/Burnside bridges are definitely not ideal for bikes. I took Burnside last night and the traffic wasn't bad at all, but Broadway this morning was not very friendly at all, and the transition you mention there is indeed terrible. Is the lower deck of the Steel Bridge still closed?

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    • Kirk February 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      It was still closed this morning.

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  • Huey Lewis February 10, 2014 at 10:50 am

    The NW Marshall bike lane between 10th and 11th(?) is full of snow. I watched a city plow guy move his full plow of snow into the bike lane there and take off.

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    • Reza February 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      Yeah I noticed this the last few days. Certainly a challenge for these contraflow lanes is that they need dedicated bike-lane-size plows or blowers to clear the lane. It's a challenge anywhere you have a protected bicycle lane.

      Luckily on Marshall the traffic speeds and volumes are so low that a block of wrong-way riding between the parking lanes isn't the most dangerous thing you can do in this weather.

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  • spare_wheel February 10, 2014 at 11:01 am

    I'm extremely upset that the Hawthorne Bridge bike counter did not register my commutes this weekend. I emailed Mayor Hales, Commissioner Novick, Burchfield, and Geller and I urge everyone else who was not counted to do the same.

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    • JV February 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

      While I am sure your concern is appreciated, hopefully the Commissioners have better things to do in the short-term than make sure the counter is working.

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      • spare_wheel February 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm

        (you do realize i was joking...)

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  • davemess February 10, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Highly recommend staying off the bikeways/neighborhoodGreenways/whatever you want to call them.
    I rode the mountain bike this morning and besides being incredibly wet (definitely need to get a moto-style fend on the front!), it wasn't too bad, except for my stretch on the lesser traveled street. There were no ruts, and it was kind of hard to tell transitions between slush/snow and the sheet of ice parts.
    Stick to well traveled roads unless you're looking for some adventure.

    For my ride SE Woodward between 72nd and 52 was the bad bikeway.

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  • Lenny Anderson February 10, 2014 at 11:08 am

    What an opportunity for PBOT's Maintenance folks to walk the talk of "active transportation," and make it a priority to clear bikeway, bike lanes and MUPs of ice, snow and debris. On cleared bikeways police patrols will need to be increased to keep all those cut through motorists in check...another opportunity to educate them on what a bikeway is.

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    • davemess February 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Seeing as they can't really clear the streets effectively, I think this is going to fall pretty low down the priority list. I'm fairly convinced that the city is just going through the motions, pretending that they are trying to clear the streets, while in fact they're just waiting until the eventual rain and melt off.

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    • Todd Boulanger February 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Perhaps there needs to be a "rethinking" of how streets are plowed in our "Bike City": should not the snow be pushed to the center inside lane in order to keep the curb lane, bike lane, bus stops and drainage gutters free from snow and ice? MWAPBCD (What Would A Platinum Bike City Do?)

      There should also be "opposite of the street" parking rules to clear the parking lane and gutters priority arterials.

      A lot of the city center plowing (Portland, Vancouver, etc.) work each snow storm seems to always make more trouble for pedestrians, ADA ramp access, and drainage than it solves. The frequent buses seems to do better plowing.

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  • mikeybikey February 10, 2014 at 11:08 am

    The bike path on NE Multnomah was more or less unusable. It seemed to me that all of the plowed snow was piled IN the bike path. I thought the city recently acquired a bike lane sized snow plow. Did they actually deploy it anywhere?

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    • mikeybikey February 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Ah, it was a street sweeper, not a snow plow. nevermind.

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  • lysenko February 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Y'all realize that if the bike lanes are plowed, the snow will have to go on the sidewalks? The plows don't pick up the snow and carry it away. We can take the lane a lot easier than pedestrians can. It will only be a couple of days.

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  • shuppatsu February 10, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I'm famous!

    I would have preferred to stay off the car lane on the Broadway Bridge, even with all the ice and slush. But it's downhill on the approach to the bridge, and I did not have time to slow down, turn, and deal with all the uneven snow build up while exposed on a fast-moving street. Luckily, the main roadway wasn't icy at all.

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  • Kevin Prentice February 10, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Road the mountain bike this morning. SE Clinton looked bad enough I didn't even try it. SE Ladd was still pretty bad this morning. As was the Eastbank Esplanade. Definitely had a bunch of walking spots in my route. Dido on the Hawthorne Bridge, path section was not usable: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/2229224

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  • Spiffy February 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I didn't get out on a bike over the weekend but I did many miles of walking and found that the middle of the street was the best place... not hard and slippery like the iced over sidewalks... there were few cars so moving aside was easy, even when the police cruiser passed by...

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  • John Lascurettes February 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Jonathan, your essay says Hawthorne bridge. Your photos show Broadway.

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  • John Liu February 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    As of 2 pm Monday:
    - Downtown streets almost entirely clear; sidewalks and bike lanes not.
    - Hawthorne Bridge bike lane and pedestrian paths covered in most areas w/ slippery slush-snow; roadway almost entirely clear
    - Main roads similar to the bridge
    - Side roads covered w/ slush-snow, rutted and rotten.

    You can ride on the main roads quite easily, but will be in the car lanes. There will be occasional patches and ridges of slush-snow; your tires will cut through most of them but be careful lest you fall in front of a car. The slushy side roads are difficult to very difficult to ride on, but there are fewer cars.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Just took a report from a Bi-State Bike Commuter coming from Portland...the ODOT I-5 Interstate Bridge path is still not cleared as of 2 PM today.

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  • Moleskin February 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Anyone ride up the Springwater from Sellwood today? Just wondering how navigable this might be tomorrow.. Thanks!

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    • OE February 11, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Rode the Springwater from the Oaks Bottom Connector to downtown this morning. Snow-covered but bikeable (a strip of pavement is visible for most of it) from the Connector to just south of the Ross Island Gravel boathouse. Almost entirely clear from the boathouse to Hawthorne Bridge. However, don't recommend the Oaks Bottom connector without knobby tires. I had to walk most of it. I think the connector will be a few days unless it gets plowed.

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      • Moleskin February 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

        Thanks OE. I rode up from Sellwood this morning - some sketchy patches but mostly either clear or a narrow ribbon of pavement visible. Managed it without a dab, just..

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  • Jeff February 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Had to take the lane on Moody this morning. I was rather emphatically reminded to mind the streetcar tracks.

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  • Joe February 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    total mess! if you take the lane becareful seems most really have no idea about lane law here, scary and not going to put myself at risk for a motorist to get his hand slapped if they kill me.

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  • Joe February 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Oh West in Wilsonville no clear lanes. sidewalks not clear but its like riding on horse trails. drivers don't want to share so play it safe and ride with guts.

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  • Lillian Karabaic February 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Riding in at 5:20 this morning via E Burnside/Couch/Sandy/Hawthorne bridge/South Waterfront was trecherous. Very icey, gross slush in places, and quite a few spots I had to get off and walk. Burnside was the only good part. My normally 20 minute commute took an HOUR. I was #7 on the Hawthorne bridge! Only saw two other bikers and a runner with a backpack and yak trak, all of whom passed me.

    Riding home at 10:00AM, I stuck to really well-traveled big streets - Naito and Burnside. It was slushy, but a relatively fast ride. Usually takes me 30 minutes, took me 50. Did get "slushed" by a big nasty van passing me. That was not nice.

    Headed to my second job now. It's up the Alameda Ridge, so I may play it safe and TriMet it.

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  • daisy February 10, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I took the lane on the Broadway Bridge this morning to avoid the muck Jonathan photographed. But it looks like it might be tougher on the way home. With only one lane going up to the bridge, folks in cars might be less patient than going the other direction, where at least they could pass me.

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  • Jrdpdx February 10, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Rode Steel Bridge(lower deck still closed) , Multnomah, 15th Ave, Knott, 57th and Prescott and various short side streets on way home just now, taking the lanes the whole way. Cars incredibly courteous. Fun crazy day Jonathan thanks for tips this am. Common sense but still good to read before the commute

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  • GlowBoy February 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Didn't get out on the bike during the day, but I've been riding around this evening. Still 2-4" of heavy slush on most streets, mostly rideable on the semi-fatbike but sketchy in a few spots. Fatties are still proving far, far better than my other bike with skinnier studded tires, which are nearly hopeless in slush over a couple inches deep. Another day and the studs should come into their own again.

    Rode the Esplanade for fun, and discovered that very few bikes have been on it. Interesting that N. Williams is plowed, but the bike lane is only plowed where there are NOT parked cars next to it. Guess West Coast snowplow drivers are scared to get within 5' of parked cars, to the detriment of cyclists.

    Just in the last few minutes it has suddenly started raining HARD. That should help accelerate tonight's melting, and might also be a good sign for things to NOT re-freeze overnight.

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  • Barbara Stedman February 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I resorted to the bus as well. It's bad enough getting across the curb to the bus! I noticed that the cycletrack on broadway along PSU was more or less clear, but there were massive snow barricades at each ends, i.e. the track is not useable because there are parked cars on the side and snow barricades at each end. I guess that's what they call "protected bikelane"...

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