PDOT issues statement on icy streets; shares tips for bikers

PDOT just sent out a lengthy press release that gives an overview of their status and strategy in tackling the ongoing issues created by this week’s severe weather. The full press release is below (scroll to the bottom for some biking and walking tips):

City Crews Working to Clear Main Streets of Ice

Neighborhood Streets Still Very Icy

(PORTLAND, OR) – The City of Portland Maintenance Operations crews continue to remain on full callout to clear main streets of ice and prepare for the next storm system expected mid-week. Most transit routes, emergency response routes, and major arterials are in good condition tonight. The public is advised, however, that conditions are variable. Expect patches of ice, packed snow, black ice, and clear pavement. Strong winds may result in downed tree limbs and power lines. Do not drive around barricades and over power lines.

Although the City is equipped to deal with the effects of winter weather on our primary and secondary routes, there are limits to the areas we can de-ice, sand, and plow in severe winter storm events. The City of Portland has almost 4, 000 miles of streets. Every major snow and ice event involves plowing 1,300 miles of street and anti-icing 300 miles of street.

The Bureau of Transportation does not have the equipment – nor does it have the personnel – to provide anti-icing, de-icing, sanding, plowing, and snow removal services on neighborhood streets. Equipment operators will assess a situation and do everything they can if an emergency responder is unable to access a street that is off the network of the City’s service areas.

Residents in the hills are typically the most frustrated with the City’s limited ability to clear their streets. Streets of grades over 14% under typical snow and ice conditions are not able to be treated because such an operation would endanger crews and equipment. The highest priority in all operations is the safety of the crew and protection of the equipment. Crews cannot safely get their trucks up and down many of the steep and narrow side streets in the hills.

Snow and Ice Response Goals

  • To reduce life-threatening and injury-producing conditions.
  • To reduce the interruption to the economic life of the City.

Snow and Ice Response Objectives

  • To provide a street surface free enough of ice, snow or slush to allow reasonable vehicular control when operating under specific traffic regulations.
  • To discourage private vehicles; encourage mass transit.
  • To reduce accidents, bottlenecks; treat known hazard locations.
  • To improve emergency response; treat medical, fire, police routes.
  • To accommodate commerce; treat commercial/industrial routes.

Snow and Ice Service Priorities
The priorities established by the City of Portland for the treatment of streets under its jurisdiction are as follows:

Pre identified Hazard areas and critical locations, including bridges, overpasses, and known hazard areas in higher elevations.

Primary routes: Arterials and major transit routes considered to be a minimum network that must be kept open to provide a transportation system connecting hospitals, Police and Fire stations, rescue unit locations, schools, if open, and major park-and-ride transit lots.
Secondary routes: Additional arterials with a high daily traffic count, and major collector streets completing a network that connects major residential areas and local commercial districts.
Neighborhood residential streets: Streets providing access to residential homes and businesses. Although a service area in the Plan, neighborhood streets do not receive service in a severe winter weather event.

Under all circumstances Primary routes will be routinely patrolled during adverse weather, and units returned to treatment of these routes immediately if necessary in order to keep them open.

Transportation Options
The City’s Snow and Ice Plan discourages private vehicle use and encourages mass transit use instead. The Portland metropolitan region has an excellent public transit system. In most Portland neighborhoods, residents are within four to six blocks of a transit stop or covered bus shelter. Some neighborhoods have great access to MAX light rail or the Portland Streetcar. Pedestrians and bicyclists are advised to be extra careful, and motorists are advised to drive slowly and be on the lookout for bicyclists and pedestrians trying to get to a transit stop.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians in Severe Winter Weather

  • Always cross at a crosswalk or at the corner.
  • Look for oncoming vehicles before stepping down from the sidewalk.
  • If possible, establish eye contact with drivers and continue looking left-right-left while crossing.
  • Remember that oncoming vehicles may approach more quickly than anticipated and may have difficulty stopping at an intersection in icy conditions.
  • Make sure you are seen: wear contrasting clothing (dark top and light bottom, or light top and dark bottom) and use retro-reflective materials when it’s dark outside. Dress warmly.
  • Know where your transit stops are before venturing out. Allow extra time to get to your destination.
  • Plan for bus delays of 20-30 minutes.
  • Wear devices you can put on your shoes that act much like tire chains for your shoes.

Safety Tips for Bicyclists in Severe Winter Weather

  • Use front and rear bicycle lights.
  • Make sure you are seen: wear retro-reflective materials when it’s dark outside.
  • Brake early and often.
  • Avoid some painted and steel road surfaces.
  • Stay out of puddles and watch for black ice.
  • Slow down, give yourself longer stopping distances, and keep a firmer grip on your handlebars.

View this press release online.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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15 years ago

Not so sure about a lot of the bicycle advice. It’s been my experience that you should stay off the brakes on ice, and just try to be as smooth as possible.

Opus the Poet
15 years ago

Well the ice has hit DFW and I have to be someplace tonight, this could be interesting.