The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Open thread for biking conditions (11/23)

Posted by on November 23rd, 2010 at 12:11 am

Riding in the cold and rain-10

A woman rides down SW Broadway
on Monday morning.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The big snow storm never really materialized, but the weather situation still deserves our attention. With lots of rain and a bit of snow last night (Monday) and with sub-freezing temps and possibly more snow in the forecast today, the roads could be icy and very tricky this morning.

If you are riding out there, please chime in and share with others what you are seeing and experiencing. Is it too dangerous to ride? Is it no big whoop?

This post is here for Portlanders to share insights on what the road conditions are like throughout the city. If you are considering riding to work or around town for any reason, check for tips and updates on biking conditions in the comments below.

Some handy links:
Latest weather advisory from PBOT

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Stig10 November 23, 2010 at 5:19 am

    Side streets are glazed with a very thin layer of ice. Main roads are probably getting warmed by car tires and are more likely to have had deicer applied. I’m not sure how much traction there is in the bike lanes. I’ll try with the road bike and see.

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  • Jack November 23, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Around 5 am I saw the same glaze Stig10 found but it seemed more like frost than ice. I was riding without any special caution and did not slip at all.

    Sure was cold though.

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  • Schrauf November 23, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Mostly easy from mid Belmont to downtown on Salmon, etc. Hawthorne Bridge was by far the slickest, and inconsistent, so take it slow. Take it all a little slow, or you may get surprised. These conditions can be more dangerous because it is easy to go fast, most of the time. And then you bite it on a shaded, slight downhill turn.

    That wind is “fresh”. But still shorts weather. Shorts and excellent gloves.

    Good thread, Jonathan!

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  • joel November 23, 2010 at 6:42 am

    the snow was never really forecast to be much more than whats there now. and today is forecast to be sunny. looks fine on my small side street near mlk/killingsworth – a bit icy, but care should handle that. dont expect the side streets to de-ice, as were not supposed to get above freezing. schrauf – shorts weather? yeah, maybe for anyone whos not going to be out in it for the next 10 hours straight. shorts yes, but not without warm tights under them. im cold tolerant, but i also know that my biological tissues have limitations that my psyche may not.

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  • Dan Hawk November 23, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Same thin glaze of ice out where I live in SE near Mall 205/ Adventist Hospital.

    Also of note is the 2hr late start for schools at David Douglas.

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  • Mike November 23, 2010 at 7:08 am

    I came in from Woodstock to downtown. The worst part was Hawthorne Bridge. Not bad. Just had to go a little slower.
    It’s cold though. Fingers got it the worst.

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  • Brian November 23, 2010 at 7:14 am

    If you ride the Esplanade, take care on the floating part. It is completely covered with ice.

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  • EmGee November 23, 2010 at 7:30 am

    St Johns area (NoPo): Streets are mostly dry, good traction. I’m not riding today: don’t have the clothing for it. (Time for an article on winter gloves, scarves, etc?)

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  • Max November 23, 2010 at 7:35 am

    NE Tillamook is looking just fine. Just be careful as more people than usual are using it as a shortcut around Broadway.

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  • C.J. November 23, 2010 at 7:38 am

    N Vancouver was smooth sailing, just a little patchy here and there. Broadway bridge was a good option for getting over the river, not very much ice at all. All in all it was a beautiful ride despite the 22 degrees… eye of the tiger!

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  • Stig November 23, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Had a few problems taking the road bike:
    -Frozen derailleur/shifter cables- couldn’t change gear. (kept in garage).
    -Conditions at the tops of hills had snow/ice/slush and I had to walk those parts.
    -Rear wheel slipped a bit in places.
    -Front wheel slipped just once as I was pulling over to walk.
    -Bike shed lock was frozen- poured hot water over it.

    Definitely take it easy and walk the bike through dangerous sections. Use wide or studded tires if you have them. I’d recommend at least 28mm.

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  • beth h November 23, 2010 at 7:49 am

    I’m leaving soon for work and am tempted to take my singlespeed cross bike instead of the multi-geared city bike… Road facing north and overlooking the Slough generally get and stay icy longer than roads facing south. Take your time, dress warmly (especially extremities!) and ride predictably. Not rocket science.

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  • Smapty November 23, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Outer NE Portland is ice. Halsey ST is no good. Watched multiple cyclists eat it this morning. Any hills coming into 82nd are icy and is best to wait to use them.

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  • Matt November 23, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Not bad from N Vancouver & Rosa Parks to SE Holgate. Worst part was the floating section of the eastbank esplanade, pretty icy on the ramps – use caution!!!!

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  • Jack November 23, 2010 at 7:56 am

    +1 for frozen brake problems. Mine took a pretty strong squeeze to pop em out of their frozen state and even then, the cold pads seemed far less effective than usual. Shifting also took a little extra finesse.

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  • wendy November 23, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Watch out for the S-curve from Couch onto Burnside bridge. Sheet of ice with weird slopes to push you into traffic. East side of bridge is slicker than west for some reason.

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  • Mike Quigley November 23, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Doesn’t matter how you spin it, there’s nothing more miserable looking than a bicycle rider in the rain (or snow), but especially in the rain.

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    • spare_wheel November 23, 2010 at 8:40 am

      Top 5 reasons spare wheel prefers rain:

      5. Wet hipsters are funny.
      4. Hydraulic disc brakes are rad.
      3. Can skip the shower at work.
      2. C**er traffic jams!
      1. No dutch bikes in my way.

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      • Anne Hawley November 23, 2010 at 10:15 am

        Funny, I always feel like my number one reason for riding my Dutch bike in the rain is that there are way fewer impatient overprivileged cyclists in MY way.

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  • Bob_M November 23, 2010 at 8:06 am

    I never thought I would ride a single speed, but this AM my derailer cables are frozen and I had no choice. The huge puddle in front of Cleveland High at Powell and 26th is now black ice across the entire north bound lane and half way across the south bound lane. Likewise the huge puddle at SE Holgate and SE 28th is similarly spread and frozen. Slow and careful my friends.

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  • Dave November 23, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Didn’t have any trouble this morning, but the bike lanes that were covered in wet leaves are now covered in clumps of frozen leaves, so I tried to avoid those as much as possible.

    Some of the side streets had some patches of really thin ice, but as long as you take it easy and move as gently as possible, they don’t seem too slippery. Just don’t make any sudden sideways movements 🙂

    Generally, the roads were more clear than I expected them to be, and there didn’t seem to be much traffic out.

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  • Jack November 23, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Mike Quigley
    Doesn’t matter how you spin it, there’s nothing more miserable looking than a bicycle rider in the rain (or snow), but especially in the rain.

    I stayed late at work last night hoping there would be snow to ride home in.

    You’re entitled to your perception, but I have to say one thing that definitely strikes me as more miserable looking is a driver stuck in traffic.

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    • toby November 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm

      Last night I didn’t get out of class until 9pm and the ride home was great!! Especially along the waterfront where there was no other bike tracks as the snow was falling, beautiful!

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  • Chris November 23, 2010 at 8:23 am

    East of NE 57th (up the hill from Hollywood) has a thin layer of ice covering the side roads. Hollywood/Broadway/Rose Quarter seemed pretty good.
    Watch for turns off of side streets, lots of frozen puddles and the curb edge.

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  • G. Tyler November 23, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Springwater wasn’t too bad from 205 to Sellwood. The ice was crunchy enough to give traction (looked like frozen rain instead of slick ice). Found that safety glasses are the best for keeping eyes from freezing and give good visibility!

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  • Will November 23, 2010 at 8:27 am

    Not much of a to-do out here in the ‘burbs (Washington County, Tigard). A little icy, and I did ride my mountain bike instead of my road bike, but over all it was a pleasant morning with fewer than normal cars buzzing by.

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  • M. Smith November 23, 2010 at 8:31 am

    NE Skidmore to Vancouver through Rose Quarter to downtown via Steel Bridge lower deck. All fine! Minor icy patches here and there but very visible and easy to avoid. Fingertips are freezing! brrrr

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  • O.E. November 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Springwater mostly clear from Sellwood to Hawthorne Bridge. Ramp to WB Hawthorne Bridge is fine too.

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  • Dave November 23, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Road from NE to downtown. There was some ice on Going and a little bit on N. Vancouver. But overall it wasn’t too bad, I just avoided the frozen leaves. Like a few people above I had a problem with frozen brakes and shifting wasn’t as smooth as normal. All in all it was actually a pleasant ride in, barely any traffic and the city seemed very quiet.

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  • Spiffy November 23, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Holgate bike lanes weren’t bad… a little slick near the edges of the road when turning… Milwaukie had frost in the bike lanes but it wasn’t too slick…

    the usual slick spots near trees and rivers on all the usual bike paths like I-205 and Springwater…

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  • random rider November 23, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I had the same ride and

    Road from NE to downtown. There was some ice on Going and a little bit on N. Vancouver. But overall it wasn’t too bad, I just avoided the frozen leaves. Like a few people above I had a problem with frozen brakes and shifting wasn’t as smooth as normal. All in all it was actually a pleasant ride in, barely any traffic and the city seemed very quiet.

    I had the same route and experience. No problems except for the woman who blew through the stop sign at 25th and Going before hearing me yelling and stopping in the middle of the intersection. That kind of thing can happen any day, but with longer braking distances and less ability to maneuver I didn’t have the same avoidance options. Fortunately I was going slowly enough and tracking her so I wasn’t caught off guard and was able to avoid being hit. Just another day of inattentive motor vehicle drivers in Portland.

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  • Jessica November 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Commute by bike was nice. Yes, cold but I was dressed properly with long underware bottoms, pants and rainpants, two long sleeved warm shirts and Shower’s Pass jacket, ear band and hat, warm boots and wool socks, facemask, warm gloves and bar mitts on bike. Hands were a bit cold, the rest of me fine. Roads were mostly fine with some patches of ice. Took side streets and rode slowly. No big downhills and took all corners slowly. No slipping at all. Commute was in North Portland heading primarily south so I think I also had a nice tail wind.

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  • Fred November 23, 2010 at 8:54 am

    A little slippery coming from SW over the West Hills. There was a lot less traffic to worry about. The West Hills have a thin layer of snow on the road with spots of black ice. Lost traction going up a couple of times and coming down also but not enough to worry about falling. Rode the cross bike with Small Block 8’s and it did well.

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  • Ben November 23, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Icy in North Beaverton but not too bad. This was my first winter-weather bike commute. The thing I didn’t anticipate was that the bike lock I leave on the rack at work would be frozen shut. Other than that, no problems this morning and riding my bike to work in the snow and ice makes me feel skillful and powerful.

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    • Alex Reed November 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

      The internets recommend hot water… I’m going to try it on my bike locks when I get home 🙂

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  • Alex Reed November 23, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I keep my bike outside usually, and forgot to bring it in last night…. So I couldn’t ride, sadly—locks frozen solid. Hopefully they’ll have thawed when I get home!

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  • Todd Boulanger November 23, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Downtown Vancouver roads are clear. Ice may be the only issue to look out for.

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  • Andrea November 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Ride into downtown from N. Portland was fine. Patches of ice but easily avoided.

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  • Stacey November 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

    St. Johns to inner SE was no problem. The roads were mostly dry with only a few icy patches near the curb. Only sketchy area was the floating section of the Esplanade- but that was to be expected. It was covered in ice and it looked slippery, but it road fine- just take it slow. So glad I rode today- I was contemplating driving, but once i went outside I realized that it was fine conditions for riding!

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  • mello yello November 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Was driving last night at 11:30 in Sherwood and 4 wheel drive trucks and suv’s were blasting by — one in the ditch that had snapped a utility pole in half! It’d be suicide to ride the open highways in this weather.

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    • Steven S November 23, 2010 at 10:18 am

      I commute from Sherwood to Tualatin and it was ice all the way. I sidewalked it on Tualatin-Sherwood Rd.

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  • matthew vilhauer November 23, 2010 at 9:53 am

    up on the hill here in vancouver is pretty clear. frosted and a tad slick in spots on the side streets (esp. in the shade & on frozen leaves) but totally rideable. just arrived home from a downtown ride on the cross bike with no problems. a distinct lack of cars on the road. i love it!

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  • Perry Hunter November 23, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Word for the day: “shrinkage!”

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  • Neil
    Neil November 23, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Since I usually leave my house at 5:30am, I didn’t feel like dealing with black ice going over the West Hills from Beaverton this morning. Great job to everyone riding in today.

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  • Tony H November 23, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Inner SE was fine but the Hawthorne Bridge was, as others noticed, icy. I really liked my new studded tires, although there were plenty of folks doing just fine with regular tires. Gloves, people!

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  • Jason November 23, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Cold on the face is the first thing you notice. Ice on most roads but OK if you ride at an even pace. Burnside bridge was the diciest: ice all over the bike lane westbound. We all made it over OK but not going too fast. If a longish ride, cover your face and big, layered gloves are needed.

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  • Jordan F November 23, 2010 at 10:37 am

    rode from 44th and Hawthorne (via Salmon) to PSU from 9:25-9:50. Plenty of ice patches throughout the ride, but it caused no problems..and i have absolutely no treads on my road be careful, and youll be fine!

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  • Jim F November 23, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Not too bad coming in from MLK/Alberta. Many patches of ice, but I took it easy.

    Cold was no problem. In fact, I had to fully unzip my light jacket half way in (had t-shit and long sleeve t-shirt underneath). $20 ski mittens from Next Adventure kept my hands toasty the whole way in.

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  • dan November 23, 2010 at 10:57 am

    No real problems coming into town from Lincoln and SE 43rd. A couple of slick spots, but primarily bare pavement already. Hawthorne bridge had ice most of the way across, but there’s been enough bike traffic to clear an 8-inch lane that’s bare pavement.

    The downhill onto the bridge (i.e., section from the top of the viaduct over MLK down to where you turn off to the Esplanade) looked like it had heavy frost/ice, but didn’t seem too slick — I was taking it pretty easy and got passed by someone on a road bike who treated the surface like bare pavement and had no problems.

    By the end of the day, I bet the bridge will be ice-free.

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  • Ryan Good November 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Ride in from Concordia was fine. As others have said, some patches of ice along the way, but they were very visible. It was cold, but not bad (I like cold!), and it just made my coffee at Cartola taste that much better. Bring on the snow!

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  • beth h November 23, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Took the city bike. Freewheel was a little sticky from the cold but eventually warmed up enough through use. Surpried to learn that a co-worker who lives mere blocks from me and is an experienced cyclist opted not to ride in so early due to the icy side streets. I think it’s all about a rider’s comfort zone and danger perception. Personally, I had few problems as long as I took quieter streets (15th all the way up would’ve been a drag) and rode predictably. Drivers were polite and a few even waved me through icy intersections, perhaps thinking that I could keep pedaling it would help me avoid sliding out.
    A bracingly pleasant commute!

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  • Donna November 23, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    I rode from 7 Corners area to the Lloyd Center MAX station. Lots of ice patches on the streets so I rode slow. Then I rode from SE 162nd and Burnside to SE 172nd and Division. Lots more ice and more solid so I rode even slower. I also lowered the tire pressure at bit.

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  • mmann November 23, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Rode out to Gresham for conferences this morning. Kept it straight and no hills, so pretty successful. Until I dumped the sled in Rockwood. Doh! I timed it so I was on the ice as the sun was hitting it and melting it a little. Slick as snot in downtown Gresham – literally just like a hockey rink after the Zamboni is done – and I had to walk the bike a couple blocks. No more mishaps after that, but definitely one of the dicier commutes I’ve ever had. I’ll take snow over this any day.

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  • Dwainedibbly November 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    SW Moody north of the aerial tram was clear except for a little ice where puddles usually form. My nose was colder than a witch’s… broom. Had a some of the frozen leaves on the south end of Waterfront Park MUP. No problems. Frankly, I was disappointed. Had a little trouble getting the iMotion-9 rear hub to downshift below 4th. By the time I realized it, I had twisted the shifter all the way to “1”, then it shifted. 🙂

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  • Stig10 November 23, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    At least by taking the road bike I had an easy ride home. Be sure to keep your bike warm overnight. I expect my lock to be frozen again in the morning. I should find a way to insulate it.

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  • Ted Buehler November 24, 2010 at 1:32 am

    I just rode home to Tillamook St at 1:30am, I was pleased to see 2 other bicyclists between Williams and MLK. It’s a beautiful night for bicycling. One of the best of the year. Full moon, crisp air, very quiet city out there.

    Two other tips —
    1) Lower your seat if you expect to find ice. If you can touch ground flatfooted you’ll be less likely to wipe out, and if you do, you won’t hit as hard. (Much less efficient pedalling, though).
    2) Wool sox make great mittens. Excellent in the rain, good in the cold. Tonight I wore two sox on each hand, it it was pretty okay. Earlier I only had one per hand and they got a little cold.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Stig November 24, 2010 at 7:44 am

    This morning’s commute (11/24) was almost completely dry. Some ice on i84 still path, but nothing to worry about. Great weather to ride in if you prepare well and less cars about.

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  • h November 24, 2010 at 11:06 am

    i rode on a bike today. there was not much ice on roads. i slowed on some frost-laced bridges. i was toasty except my face. guess i need something to cover it. one of my brakes does not work right. maybe brake calipers? need to be lubricated. hope i can go home early today.

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