Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Forecast calls for snow: Prepare yourself!

Posted by on January 13th, 2012 at 11:03 am

The City of Portland has issued a winter travel advisory due to a cold front on its way late this weekend. The forecast calls for “snow showers” starting on Sunday. If it comes to pass, things could get interesting out on the roads.

If you’ve haven’t already, now would be a good time to think about what you need to do and know in order to be ready to ride no matter what weather comes our way.

What snow?!
(Photo © J. Maus)

The first thing to do is dig out your warmest mittens, balaclavas, scarves and tights (if you haven’t already). For tips on staying warm, check out a winter riding guide we published a few years back. And if you’ve got little ones, there are ways to keep them warm too.

Another great way to learn how to dress is by seeing what others do. Check out the riding portraits we shared from a very cold commute last year (also scroll down for snow riding pics).

“Slip Not” bicycle traction chains.

If it starts to snow, or if ice happens, there are ways to improve your bike’s traction. One reader shared a link to a big selection of studded tires — and even bike tire snow chains! — available from local online retailer BikesTiresDirect.com. Of course, there’s also the DIY zip-tie option.

For more snow and ice riding tips, peruse our past snow coverage. Here’s a great thread from the Portland Bike Forums a few years back that tackles the subject.

Detail from City’s Plow Map.

When it comes to road conditions, we’ll update what we here on our Twitter account and to the City’s Public Alerts website. Speaking of PBOT, you might want to take a look at their map of snow plow routes (PDF here). Also, keep in mind that despite the growing Neighborhood Greenway network, PBOT doesn’t plow residential streets.

Despite the City’s assumption that no one rides bikes when the weather gets really bad, I’ve always been pleasantly surprised at how many Portlanders ride no matter the weather.

I personally think that if and when a significant amount of snow falls in the city, a bike is the best way to get around. As proof (and for inspiration), I leave you with a few of my favorite snow riding pics from years past…

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  • JohnS January 13, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Kudos to all those who brave the snow. As much as I love riding–the rare day or two of snow may be my ticket to ride (the bus!). Good luck everyone!

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  • Todd Boulanger January 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Actually I love riding after a heavy snow fall…especially in the first few hours or days when motorized traffic drops off. (Except for a few off street paths that are never plowed or shoveled (ODOTs I-5 or 1-205.)

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  • Geoff January 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I love riding in the snow; I used to do it all the time on the East Coast. As an alternative to studded tires or chains, mountain bike tires at low pressure will give pretty good traction. Just be careful not to turn sharply or brake suddenly.

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  • Nathan January 13, 2012 at 11:20 am

    YAY! A valid reason to ride my mountain bike within Portland city limits.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Jonathan…here is a related question to your article today:

    If an agency plows or de-ices the roadway…does that mean they have to also plow / de-ice the adjoining path or sidewalk? Other than the principle of transportation equity…I wonder if the Federal ADA law would trigger this winter maintenance work?

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  • dmc January 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

    nice photos. care to share some dates?

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  • TonyH January 13, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I, too, love riding in snow! I hope that we get a bit, as it’s been too long since the last snowfall.

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  • Champs January 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve got a pair of Kenda Klondikes with plenty of miles left, and some mounted-never-ridden Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires.

    Both have seen the Minnesota winter, and I don’t think they’re coming out even if snow hits the valley floor.

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  • Zaphod January 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Let it SNOW! Quiet beautiful streets. I live for it.

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  • John Lascurettes January 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I love snow riding. Not so nuts about ice riding. I’m going to put the studded tires on the MTB this weekend in preparation.

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  • PorterStout January 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    One of the two spills I’ve taken over the last 5 years in Portland was about 20 yards beyond the gentleman in the second photo crossing the Broadway Bridge. What do you know, the bridge surface froze before the road surface did, just like they say. Be careful out there.

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  • GlowBoy January 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    My studded tires are ready to mount, in case it actually happens.

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  • Alan 1.0 January 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Nice load on the longtail…80 pounds of water! Didja try any broadies with that set-up? 🙂

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  • davemess January 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Two words
    Cross Bike!

    You don’t need studded tires, just some knobbies, common sense, and bike handling skills

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    • John Lascurettes January 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      Knobbies for snow. Studs for ice when the snow melts and then refreezes. Studs make a huge difference on smooth ice. I’ve really only needed them once three years ago, but man what a difference they made.

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  • Joe January 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I’m ready I’m ready…

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  • Dan Kaufman January 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Rain, snow, or shine the PDX Bike Swarm will be headed out to Gresham to support the local youth in their desire to ride BMX in the “skate” park. There will be a rally at noon, followed a ride through town, and then we will Occupy Wall Street Pizza (the local Pizza co.)

    Flatland BMX pro Blake Hicks and Trials Rider E.j. Jensen will be there to show off and lend support. We hope you will be, too.

    There will be a feeder ride leaving at 11am from the Gateway Transit Center.

    Our children need to more safe places to play and ride bicycles. Bike riders and skateboarders get along in most other parks in Oregon.

    Info link: http://shift2bikes.org/cal/#15-2741
    Petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/gresham-city-council-share-the-gresham-skate-park-with-the-bmxers

    For riding on snow and ice you just can’t beat a trike (though fenders can be a problem if the snow is sticky). The disco trike will be rollin in Gresham – let it snow!

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  • nuovorecord January 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Finally got a cross bike with some knobbies…bring it, Mother Nature!!! I’m ready!

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  • Scott January 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    In wet, packed snow, and ice, go to Ace Hardware and buy a big bulk bag of thick, beefy zip ties.

    Next, go home and zip tie them all over your wheels.

    Then, ride all day in the snow and laugh at everyone who spent more $$$ than you to accomplish the same thing.

    For about $10 bucks you should have enough zip ties to make it through about 10 Portland “snow storms”.

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  • dwainedibbly January 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I need to check & see if those chains are available in 650b.

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  • Andrew Holtz January 14, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Ch. 2 video clip of cycling in the big snow blast of Dec. 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM4E5tE6o6M&list=UUyOmyXXqwaLLVnYOFV7oR3w

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  • captainkarma January 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Sounds like Herman Cain former Repub primary candidate: “Snow coming? Blame yourself!”

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  • Hugh Johnson January 14, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    No matter how prepared Portland claims it’s going to be for the next snow storm, they never are. Best to stock up on food and beer and stay off the streets.

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  • Marsh January 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Please. Please! PLEASE! let it snow. Loved the ’08 Christmas blast. Hope to see y’all out there! Ride safe!

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  • Jean January 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Great photos. Portland OR, is not like Calgary in Alberta. AFter several wks. of near freezing above and below, we are getting whalloped by snow and -25 degrees C to -30 degrees C weather (colder than -22 degrees F).

    Friggin’, freakin’ cold. The snow can be slippery but the cold does give pause a lot to even cycle far comfortably.

    I bet Copenhagen, darling cycling capital or elsewhere in Netherlands, it very rarely plunges this cold.

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