Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Open thread: Flooded streets make tricky conditions

Posted by on November 19th, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Flooded N Interstate-1

People on bikes take the lane to avoid floods on N. Interstate Ave.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Many streets around Portland are flooded and the bicycling conditions out there tonight (and I assume into tomorrow morning at least) are very tricky.

Please use this post to share updates and experiences from your ride so that others may be more well informed. Tips about how to ride in these conditions are also welcomed.

Keep in touch two very useful posts: The BTA recently shared about how to bike over wet leaves, and many of you contributed to this excellent set of community responses on how to stay dry and warm while biking in the rain.

The image in this post is of northbound N. Interstate Avenue just under Broadway about a half-hour ago. It reminds us that we all need to share the road, slow down, and use caution when shoulders and bike lanes are flooded. Also, if you come up to a flooded area, please do a shoulder-check before swerving out into the adjacent lane.

Stay tuned to the local news and to your Twitter feed for updates on conditions.

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

  • michelle November 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Right lane/right side of the road if you’re heading North on Milwaukee and crossing Powell is completely flooded. Also treacherous turning from Multnomah onto 19th, huge flood to the right.

    It’s terrible out there, never more glad to be back home. Between the piles of leaves, the flood and the rain….ugh. Ride safe.

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  • Todd Boulanger November 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Yep…one of our building’s bike commuters bit it bad today on a large underwater pothole/ contractor’s utility cut on Naito while coming into work. We went down hard and broke rim.

    I told him to get a medical check up by a MD in addition to his bike mechanic looking at his bike.

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  • Close-in SE November 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Many of the intersections on SE Salmon between SE 10th and 30th are flooded as of this afternoon.

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  • BURR November 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I’ve heard reports that SE 12th and Hawthorne may be flooded, but I haven’t seen it for myself yet.

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  • K'Tesh November 19, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    SW Barbur Blvd from SW Hamilton to SW Bertha Blvd (outbound) was a mess… lots of water in the bikelane, and the bus I was on was sloshing quite a bit of it back into the bikelane (we didn’t pass any riders).

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  • Andyc of Linnton November 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Carpooling home at about this time tonight at this exact location, Interstate under the bridge. We slowed down considerably and watched a woman on her bike hike her legs up and ride through most of the puddle.
    With waves and a smile we all made it through, but were especially diligent in paying attention to this afternoons commute as conditions are anything but propitious. Look out for everyone out there folks!

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  • Kirk Ohly November 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    We can all help out a little bit by cleaning the leaves in our curb side gutters and checking the drains at the corner or mid block. That’s what I did tonight after my wet & wobbly ride home.

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  • Todd Boulanger November 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    …and not parking “our” cars long term in the street in front of our homes when the street sweepers are due

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    • bunbun November 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      but i turned my driveway into a garden!

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      • Nat November 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

        That’s fine so long as you also sold your car.

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  • Adam November 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Davis bike boulevard completely flooded out at NE 67th this evening. Had to detour around a block there.

    It didn’t help that ten minutes later, while biking past all the mansions in the Laurelhurst neighborhood on NE Couch St, the people with leaf-blowers were out en masse this evening, blowing tons and tons of slimy, wet leaves off their immaculate lawns and driveways and STRAIGHT into the middle of the bike boulevard to clog the drains and provide an extra erratic surface for me to wipe out on on my bike.

    Why isn’t there a law to prevent this kind of stuff? In the meantime, gee, thanks, rich people!

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    • A.K. November 20, 2012 at 9:02 am

      You do know the City of Portland instructs people in those leaf zone neighborhoods to place the leaves INTO the street, right? That way the city can collect them all on specified days.

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      • dachines November 20, 2012 at 10:00 am

        “Specified days” is the key here. The city does NOT want NOR intend people to move leaves into the street several days or even weeks in advance of the specified collection day. The city states this very clearly in the fliers that go out to property owners concerning autumn leaves. Unfortunately, many property owners ignore this portion of the information. Throughout the city, regardless of demographics, property owners wrongly place leaves onto the street many days in advance of their assigned collection day.

        Property owners should NOT be putting leaves into the street more than ONE day in advance of their assigned “Leaf Day”.


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      • Editz November 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        Why aren’t these mansion owners crying about Big Government and personal responsibility? Bag up your own damn leaves and don’t make the rest of us deal with your mess! </sarcasm

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  • John November 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    At 5 pm on NE Lloyd under I5 it was so deep cars were stopping and crawling through, I went on the sidewalk on the west side of the street but the other side looked like it was a foot deep or maybe even deeper, there’s sort of a downward dip at that point in the road and it was turning into a lake.

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  • matheas michaels November 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    When it floods I ride tall.

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  • Scott Batchelar November 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Downtown Portland by Waterfront & into Pearl District via Union Station was dry but be careful for cars lots of frayed nerves had a car come up close behind me on 2nd by Stark and get very impatient

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  • Scott Batchelar November 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Also be extra special courteous in Downtown – had many encounters with Car Drivers with frayed nerves.

    Had two cars honk at me for no reason

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  • Scott Batchelar November 19, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I’ve heard reports that SE 12th and Hawthorne may be flooded, but I haven’t seen it for myself yet.
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    Definite conformation on that saw a photo of a completely flooded right lane by the Food Cart Pod there as you turn onto twelfth

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  • dmc November 19, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    When through a big puddle. Thought the curb in the puddle was wheel chair accessible. Lifted feet off the pedals to keep them out of the water. Front wheel hit curb. I slid off of the seat and planted my feet in about a foot and a half of water. I had to laugh out loud at myself.

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  • Seth Alford November 20, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Would more frequent street sweeping and more frequent city cleaning of catch basins prevent some of these problems? Maybe those are “back to basics” actions for Charlie Hales.

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  • smj November 20, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Now that we have yard debris pick up every week, perhaps the leaves can go into the bin instead of the street.

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    • oliver November 20, 2012 at 9:03 am

      That would require picking up the leaves and not blowing them into the street.

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      • Chris I November 20, 2012 at 9:33 am

        This is what I do. I don’t live in one of the “leaf zones” but I have a 60ft tall oak tree in my front yard. Compost bin fills up, yard debris bin full every week. Why are people so lazy?

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  • Andrew K November 20, 2012 at 6:43 am

    yup, it is bad out there.

    even as of 6am on Tuesday there is a giant puddle (to put it mildly) about the size of a swimming pull just off Powell on SE 33rd. I personally witnessed two cars stall out in it. A girl on a bike along with myself (I was walking) helped a poor guy push his car the last few feet out and to the curb.

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  • rain bike November 20, 2012 at 6:45 am

    The wet ride home last night was the best part of my day. Been waiting for this ALL summer.

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  • Dave November 20, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Wonder how many cyclists are considering bikes with disc brakes that weren’t a few days ago…………………

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    • spare_wheel November 20, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Both my commuters have disc brakes and as soon as integrated hydros (that cost less than a grand) are available so will my road bike. I strongly recommend that anyone who commutes in all weather consider a front disc brake (80% of braking power). I have had multiple near misses where the near instantaneous maximal braking force (under wet conditions) of disc brakes saved me from serious injury.

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    • Alex Reed November 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

      Drum brakes are good too! I heart my drum brakes.

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      • spare_wheel November 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

        i test road a trek soho with a rear drum brake and was really surprised at the abysmal stopping power on a hill. i don’t know if this is typical but it was really quite bad.

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  • Gary Charles November 20, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Would better deployment of those wood chip bags around drains make a difference? I don’t see the city going to more frequent leaf collection due to the additional costs involved but I do wonder if a cheap alternative would be to deploy more bags filled with wood chips around the edges of storm drains to prevent leaves from plugging up the inlets. I honestly don’t know if that would work, just curious.

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  • spare_wheel November 20, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I turned a touch too sharply out of the bike lane when it was raining heavily and the car-polished thermoplastic bike lane marking caused me to go down at 25+ mph. The bike is OK (CF!)but I am still recovering. Polished bike lane stripes and smooth metal covers are just as dangerous as wet leaves. IMO, PBOT should remove all thermoplastic lanes and markings.

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    • John November 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      We have to ride the roads as they exist at the moment we ride them, not as they “should” exist … which admittedly is a bummer, given all the crap out there.

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  • Tom November 20, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I felt like a salmon swimming upstream on the Burnside bike lane from 122 to 136 ..yesterday ….good ‘ole Conti Contacts did very well tho.

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  • Barbara November 20, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Terwilliger was a mess yesterday, but is dry this morning. Lots of rushing rivers in the bikelane and the usual deep lake just before the intersection with Capitol Hwy. it was probably knee deep and covering most of the street so I crossed the street and went on the sidewalk. Cars were going through it very carefully. It amazes me that it is always the same spot that gets the lake and it’s not possible to improve that! Of course street sweeping doesn’t help too much when there are still leaves in the trees that are washed down by the rain. I could have cleaned out the drain in front of our driveway every few hours.
    In general, it amazes me that car drivers think they can still go at their usual 10 miles above the speed limit in heavy rain, especially on a street like Terwilliger with its hills and blind curves. But that ended soon when everything was stop and go…

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  • Jonathan November 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I turned a touch too sharply out of the bike lane when it was raining heavily and the car-polished thermoplastic bike lane marking caused me to go down at 25+ mph. The bike is OK (CF!)but I am still recovering. Polished bike lane stripes and smooth metal covers are just as dangerous as wet leaves. IMO, PBOT should remove all thermoplastic lanes and markings.
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    I’ve got a better idea. When it is raining heavily you can slow down and not take turns at 25+ mph. That way you won’t fall and the city won’t have to pay to remove perfectly good bike markings.

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    • spare_wheel November 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      I also skid on thermoplastic bike boxes when stopping at slower speed. They are usually OK when originally installed but after a year or two of wear the become very smooth. This is obviously not ideal.

      “and not take turns at 25+ mph.”

      Thanks for the advice mom! (Turning out of a bike lane into a traffic lane something is not a full turn.)

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      • Sarah November 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm

        Just ride more carefully, hazards are everywhere. Deal with it. I, like most people in this thread, ride through this crap on a daily basis. You just learn to deal with it and if things are slippery, avoid them. It should only take one good fall to teach you that. We’re lucky to even be on our bikes in this city, it’s not their responsibility to test and replace every material they use to make roads safer for bicyclists.

        As a general statement, not directed towards spare_wheel: People just need to get better at cycling and be more careful. It’s more enjoyable when you’re really good at something to do it every day. For me it’s a point of pride, being able to navigate varying conditions and autos on a daily basis, and to do it with skill. (Also as a note, not trying to negate any warnings about specific flooded areas and really tricky spots like that in the picture…pretty intimidating stuff!)

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        • spare_wheel November 21, 2012 at 8:20 am

          “Just ride more carefully”
          I think you mean that I should ride like you do. Not…going…to…happen.

          “I, like most people in this thread, ride through this crap on a daily basis.”
          What a martyr.

          “It should only take one good fall to teach you that.”
          That was my 3rd while commuting (and I’ve lost count when not commuting). Am I stupid or something?

          “We’re lucky to even be on our bikes in this city, it’s not their responsibility to test and replace every material they use to make roads safer for bicyclists.”
          Replace bikes with cars and bicyclists with motorists. Its not only their responsibility it is their job.

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  • Mabsf November 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Please watch out for pedestrians not being able to cross at corners due to the flooding…

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  • RH November 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I went through that stretch of Interstate Ave that was flooded…had about a 2 inch portion that I could squeeze through before the water took over the road. It was fun!

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  • A.K. November 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I am having trouble thinking of something less important to get worked up about.

    People moving their leaves BEFORE leaf day! We are truly blessed with few real problems.

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    • A.K. November 20, 2012 at 10:29 am

      This should have been in-line with the leaf day thread above. Not sure what happened.

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  • Ben Guernsey November 20, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Glad I got off work early and didn’t have to navigate that.

    Cars we driving more poorly than normal too, my wife got freaked out by a semi who came into the bike lane on the top of Interstate hill. =/

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  • John Liu
    John Liu November 20, 2012 at 10:57 am

    On my commute in this morning, there were numerous sections of flooded lanes on NE Glisan and NE Sandy. It is not a big deal. Just slow down and ride around, or take the sidewalk detour if that is easier. If necessary slow down more and ride carefully through the water. On your regular commute route, you know where the major hazards are (metal plates, manholes, giant potholes) so you know if that big puddle conceals one of those. Worst case, you end up putting your foot down in 8″ of water, it is not the end of the world. I think this sort of weather is fun. Turns a routine commute into a mild adventure.

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  • Tom November 20, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Alex Reed
    Drum brakes are good too! I heart my drum brakes.
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    My Eagle Claw Salmons weren’t as good as I’d hoped for … 🙁

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  • Champs November 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    No such problems with Interstate when I left work at 6. In fact, for all the miles I rode last night, nothing was too outrageous. Watch out for glass on the 205 bike path, though.

    And I’m quite thankful to come here and not see terrible advice to wear wool or ride casually around streetcar tracks.

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  • Joe November 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I’m going to strap a paddle to on folder bike. 🙂

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  • Andyc of Linnton November 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Seems like dedicated cycle tracks would be amazing in this type of weather.

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    • Seth Alford November 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      Ummm, flooded and full of leaves because the street sweeper can’t get to them would be amazing how?

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  • Tom November 21, 2012 at 8:28 am

    the real deceiver is that many times an innocent looking puddle is actually hiding a pothole …now you are looking down in front of you for hazards while also trying to look up for traffic.

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  • troyn November 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    So wish I had biked that day. Decided to take the bus/train/bus and hit a 2 Hour commute on the way home, b/c of the flooded streets

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