Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Open Thread for riding conditions (12/19)

Posted by on December 19th, 2008 at 8:31 am

Snow scenes-7

Dee from Magpie Messenger
Collective says the harsh weather
hasn’t slowed down his business.
(Photo © J. Maus)

From the look of things so far this morning, this might be one of most challenging commutes of the storm thus far (see latest Oregonian coverage).

We had a nice bit of snow yesterday and much of stuck around and froze overnight. As I look out my window now, more snow is falling.

We’d love to know more about the riding conditions where you live.

How are the bike lanes holding up (the St. Johns Sentinel has brought up the “pebble problems”)?

Are riding or taking the bus?

How are your studded tires doing?

— More snow photos in the Photo Gallery. Follow all of our Storm 2008 coverage.

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  • Jonathan Maus December 19, 2008 at 8:31 am

    New blog post: Open Thread for riding conditions (12/19) http://tinyurl.com/4dhszf

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  • Brad December 19, 2008 at 8:39 am

    I don’t have a very far commute, just about 5 miles. There was only one place that I slide a little and that was at a turn. One of my co-workers who also rides in fell turning onto NE 42nd. I take 42nd in to work as well and did not have any problems. I did like it that the car traffic was much less today! Be safe out there and enjoy your ride!

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  • toddistic December 19, 2008 at 8:41 am

    i was going fine until my back tire flatted half way though my commute. failed to have an extra tube for a 35mm tire so i had to take the bus the rest of the way.

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  • Hollie December 19, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Rode my Xtracycle and it did beautifully. I seemed to be having an easier time than many of the cars around me. It’s fine out there as long as one rides in a mostly straight line. My rear tire (2.0 Schwalbe Big Apples) slipped a couple of times going up a hill, but that was it for mishaps.

    Oh, and I’m in Westmoreland/Reed.

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  • mountain cheese December 19, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Easiest day of the week, IMO. Sellwood to downtown on the path was a breeze. Snow riding is easy, it’s ice and leftover crust that sucks. I’m too lazy to take a bus.

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  • Dave December 19, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I rode from 39th and Powell over the Hawthorne bridge and along the waterfront to the OHSU buildings and didn’t have any problems along the way. The roads I was going along (SE Clinton, Ladd, Hawthorne, and then along the waterfront) were either lightly dusted with snow or just wet, and I didn’t have any problems slipping at all. As the temp is supposed to rise above freezing again today, I expect the same roads to probably be wet again on my commute home, just like they were yesterday.

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  • Dillon December 19, 2008 at 9:03 am

    60th and Powell, down Clinton and across the Ross Island was fine. Didn’t see anyone else out this morning though.

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  • a December 19, 2008 at 9:06 am

    bussed it this morning
    too much ice for my 700×23 slicks

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  • R-diddly December 19, 2008 at 9:08 am

    The studded tires are kickin arse. I’ve been gingerly pushing and testing the handling now and then, and I’m to the point where I’m ALMOST ready to try anything I’d try on dry pavement. Still taking it easy on the corners though.

    Now that the thrill has worn off it’s sort of boring. Plus, all I’m doing is going to WORK… pfhfhhhhh

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  • R-diddly December 19, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Oh yeah: saw ONE cyclist in N Portland at 8:15 am.

    Surface was powder on top, crunchy frozen stuff underneath. No worries about staying warm enough… these tires take a fair amount of extra pedaling effort.

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  • Duncan December 19, 2008 at 9:39 am


    skiers call that mic “dust on crust” and its slickery..

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  • Val December 19, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Up here in the Puget sound area, here are my first attempts at panda pics: http://tinyurl.com/49haj4
    Pretty normal commute, all in all. As R-diddly points out, it does become routine after a bit. At least I have a nice trail for part of it.

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  • Paul Cone December 19, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I rode the bus. Between the driver chastising a guy LOUDLY over the PA, who ran in front of the bus, and threatening to not let him on, and also announcing “OK, we’re rollin’!” before pulling out from EVERY stop, I am SO missing my bike!

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  • K'Tesh December 19, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Bike to bus, bus to proximity of work, bike to crash… walk bike down hill to work.

    I’ve hit the ground 4 times in the last few days… This is SO OLD! I want my rides to be safe, I want to go home and rest (not heal).

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  • Pete December 19, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I saw skinny tire tracks on Murray this morning – kudos to that rider.

    My coworker commutes to the Beav by bus/bike from SE Division and said the TriMet drivers got together and took initiative to stagger their routes because the buses have been so full that close-in people couldn’t get on. Many people had called to complain.

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  • neversummer December 19, 2008 at 10:08 am

    At 7:00am 42nd & Clinton to 21st & Clinton was slippery – at least for my 700×28 slicks. I fished tailed a few times, but managed to stay upright. 21st and Clinton through Ladds -> Hawthorne Bridge -> Downtown was pretty good actually. Having said that, I took it easy.

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  • Dave December 19, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I should also mention that I took it easy (as usual), and have 700x37C city bike tires, so what might not be slippery for me could be for someone with 700×28 slicks.

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  • velo December 19, 2008 at 10:43 am

    26 X 2.0 mountain tires and the ride this morning from SE to Downtown was fine. It is a little slick, but rode carefully with no skid outs.

    I did get cut off by a jerk bus driver who right hooked be through the seven corners intersection. He almost ran over another cyclist around a traffic island. I was ahead of him though the light, but he thought it had to pass me by accelerating hard and turning right in front of me. I’ll be calling Trimet on my morning break. (#10, 8:45am, Bus #2151).

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  • Mitch Conner December 19, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Easy day. Took the Springwater trail and created my tire line on the virgin snow. Very satisfying.

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  • buglas December 19, 2008 at 10:54 am

    From Corvallis, it’s not too bad. About four inches of powdery stuff and nothing slippery underneath. Rode the sidewalks – don’t want to play pinball with the four-wheel heavyweights. Walked through crosswalks, not trusting the hardpack there. Had a nice section of MUP in my ride – no driveways, able to cut a fresh track. Biggest concern is the buildup on my brakes and rear casette.

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  • Anonymous December 19, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I’ve been taking the bus all week long since I wiped out on a icy patch at the bottom of the burnside bridge turning on to 2nd street.

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  • peejay December 19, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Fixie, 700×23 front, 700×26 rear with 18 tie-wraps evenly spaced on the rear. Flatted the front (thankfully not the rear) on Hawthorne Bridge, changed tire in the crowded Max through downtown. Took the bus past the Barnes Rd hills, rode the rest of the way.

    Don’t think about using your brakes!

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  • Dan L. December 19, 2008 at 11:33 am

    I have a working hypothesis that it’s easier to bike in N/NE than it is in SE. 700×37 tires at 30 or so psi were slipping a lot around Woodstock all the way north to Belmont (I have two sets of bruises on each side to prove it) a few nights ago, but going up to Rosa Parks it was all warm, wet and grippy. Am I imagining things here?

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  • jv December 19, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Rode in at around 9:00 from NE. Traction was a little dicey on the side roads, as there was just a thin dusting of snow with packed-slick ice below. In that situation you just have to pedal smoothly, keep it upright, and not try any sharp turning. But once I got to Vancouver St things were fine – a good layer of gravel and ice mixed makes for decent traction. I actually am grateful for the gravel. I tried to buy studded tires on Wed but all the cheaper ones were sold out – but I’m still doing fine with 26×1.75 road tires.

    Motorists seemed to be extra nice today…and gave plenty of room. On a related note – yesterday I went to DMV, transfered title to OR, and applied for a Share the Road plate for my truck which I haven’t driven all week! I feel safer biking than contending with Portland drivers who don’t understand the physics of low-traction conditions. I’ve seen many give it more gas when their wheels are spinning and they are not moving.

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  • joeb December 19, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I did my 20 mile round trip yesterday. It sucked. Ok so heading out on 700×23 tires at 110psi, is probably not the recommended configuration, but the roads where just wet when I started out. Snow hit half way to work and things were pretty frozen on the way home. There were no mishaps, but with my tires, I didn’t try the bike boulevards which put me on the aterials. The bike lanes didn’t work so I road the car lane for awhile and then would pull off when possible to wait for a break in traffic. It was tense. I put my foot down in the left turn lane as I was heading into my driveway and my foot almost slid out from under me.

    In retrospect, I’m glad I made it out yesterday and regret not getting out more this week. But Portland has such minor winter weather for the most part that I just don’t really bother with the week or two each year that it gets dicey. The bus works just fine or I stay home. I know I’ll be out again in this stuff at some point so I reckon I’ll look into studded tires.

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  • April December 19, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Fine for me this morning–going from inner SE to downtown. Skipped Ladd’s and took Division and 12th to Madison.

    Front St is gravelly but otherwise fine.

    And drivers have indeed been very polite to me, more so than usual even, probably out of fear of me falling in front of them.

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  • Gabriel December 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    It wouldn’t have been so bad if all the drivers weren’t trying to kill people to get to the mall.

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  • patrick December 19, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    i’ve had an indoor commute for 10 years. For trips to the grocer and the hardware store, our Christiania trike is working very well– no danger of falling over. Also, I’m impressed at the Schwalbe tires’ grippiness even on ice and slush. I lowered the pressure to about 45psi from 75, which doubtless helps.

    It’s lovely to cycle through the falling snow.

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  • John December 19, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    The studded tires are made of awesome. This morning I had to be extremely careful putting a toe down at intersections, but the Hakka 106’s still had nearly as much straight line braking grip as my Schwalbe Marathons in the rain! Plus, on the clear spots, they go rrrr-rrrr-rrrr which makes me happy.

    I was a little worried about riding on ice and snow until this morning’s commute. Now all I’m worried about is the rolling resistance if we get heavy snow.

    The only caveat: They don’t corner extremely that well on the ice (duh), but they don’t instill confidence in ice free corners, either. They kind of wander around in fast corners. Maybe it’s the tread moving around, or maybe it’s the studs wobbling a bit, but whatever it is, it’s creepy. Only did that once. (and a second time, to make sure I wasn’t being a wimp)

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  • joel December 19, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    same setup pretty much all week – cargo bike, 1.5″ schwalbe marathons, and me not bothering to lower pressure. ive unintentionally slid less than 5 times. no falls. havent ridden in any conditions i havent scoffed at yet, and ive been out all day 4 out of 5 days, all over town (inner n, ne, nw, sw & se; swan island; long industrial nw etc) – but yes, ill be the first to admit, im probably more confident in this stuff than most, and i certainly understand peoples reticence, though im likely to try and encourage them to get out and try it, studded tires or not.

    ive actually been disappointed in this winter apocalypse, to a certain degree. it would have been a lot more fun with more snow buildup, but it keeps taunting us with a half inch at a time, and then melting off. no snowball fights, no snowmen, no nothing. poo.

    on the bright side, while i still didnt see any other cyclists on my ride in this morning (usually, even in the rain, i see dozens or more), but i saw a few more tracks. on my ride home, which was a little out of the commute hours, i saw one, and still more tracks. so that was cool – it seemed at least a few more people were getting out in this stuff.

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  • joel December 19, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    john #28 – studded tires dont handle all that well on non-icy surfaces. theyre not dangerous that way, but you definitely lose something – same as with traction tires on cars. its why you shouldnt run them when its not icy (besides wearing down the studs!). theyre kinda single-purpose.

    on a marginally related note – what do we have to do to get people in this town to understand proper use of tire chains on their cars? seriously! if theres less than 50% ice coverage, TAKE YOUR CHAINS OFF, people! dont drive faster than 35 mph, and make sure your chains are properly fitted. roads, tires, wheelwells and more are getting torn up cause theres a bunch of nitwits out there too lazy to take their damned chains off their cars when they ought to, or even install them correctly. ive seen more drivers losing traction with chains on bare asphalt than drivers losing traction without chains on ice. its just plain silly, and at least as dangerous as people driving too fast for conditions.

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  • Lapis December 19, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Has anyone else noticed that the weather has virtually no effect in reducing drivers talking on cell phones?

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  • Leaf Slayer December 19, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Rode to work from N. Portland to NW the past two days. Using a singlespeed with 700c x 35 tires and upright bars. No problems at all. This is the first time I’ve ever ridden in the “snow” and it’s fun. The bike lane on Interstate is a mess but rideable. No big deal at all. My fenders got clogged with snow coming home tonight but not so that I couldn’t ride the bike. I’ll most likely ride into work tomorrow too. Fun stuff

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  • Val December 19, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, just this evening: small pickup truck, starting up on a 12% grade, spining out one rear tire – on clear, slightly damp pavement. Why? He still had tire chains on, and they don’t grip well on bare pavement. Like most drivers around here, he knew that the best thing to do when a rear wheel starts to slip is to give it all the gas you can. I had to stop and hold myself upright laughing at the sparks dancing continuously under that one tire as he inched up the hill at full throttle. Priceless.

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  • Zaphod December 19, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Lapis (#31) I noticed the very same thing. It indicates to me that culturally we don’t take driving seriously enough.

    A related anecdote. I recall a friend of mine slipping and sliding around trying to navigate out of a parking area. Wheels were spinning and she was more or less stuck. I walked out to help, noticed she was on the phone in full conversation on her mobile and so I just walked away. She managed just fine after more spinning tires but the attention given to the task of driving was 20% at best.

    I’ve been taking the lane quite a bit due to gravel. It’s getting pretty thick.

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  • a-dub December 20, 2008 at 7:18 am

    I love the concept of “gunning it” when you lose traction. Similarly, I watched a woman in a Mercedes with chains on struggle to drive, and then heard her comment to someone who had stopped to help her “I think if I gun it, I can make it up the hill”…did I mention it was bare pavement? Goes to show just because you have money doesn’t mean you have any sense…

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  • mmann December 20, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Fresh snow this morning = better traction. I’m going for a ride!

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  • nwfolk December 20, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Beach cruisers rule the snow!!!

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  • jim December 20, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Y’all wanted Portland to be like Amsterdam, Now that it’s snowy everyone is complaning about conditions…
    “Sam Adams’ idea and the goal will be to learn how Amsterdam’s government officials and planners have been so successful at creating thriving urban cities that encourage people to get out of their cars. Jessica Roberts ”
    I’m sure Sam is driving a car today.
    Car free streets?
    Not the safest thing but a necessity.

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