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Riding conditions open thread

Posted by on November 14th, 2014 at 8:27 am

icyrossy

A reader sent this photo to us via email with the subject
line, “I’ve made a terrible mistake.” Hope he’s O.K.!

With the cold/windy/wet/icy weather we’ve been having, this is one of those days where lots of folks are wondering what the biking conditions are like.

We’ve also heard about black ice on various bicycle thoroughfares — especially bridge decks and viaducts. So, in the name of bringing all the info together into one place, please share what you know in the comments below. We’re looking to hear about conditions on specific streets and we’d also like to hear your advice, tips, and workarounds for how to deal with the conditions.

Thanks! And, please ride with caution.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Lucas Thurston
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Lucas Thurston

I rode from Columbia park to Produce Row area and surface roads were totally fine. I skipped the Concord St overpass (over Going) because it was super slick last night. The I-84 overpass sidewalk (by the Convention Center) is much like the image posted above: SUPER DEADLY. Be careful.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

I had a really hard time just walking up the Going St. overpass last night. Then immediately got a flat tire from a rusty nail going up the hill next to Beach Elementary. Despite all that, at least I wasn’t in my car!

Andrew Self
Guest
Andrew Self

Came over the Hawthorne going west this morning about 7:45. Very icy, I tried my best to ride in a straight line and not breathe in the wrong direction. I made it over, but there were several people who decided to walk their bikes instead. I can’t say that was an overly-cautious idea.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

I also rode over the Hawthorne, straight and slow — no sudden movements. I was just shocked that there was no de-icing being done on that path by 8 am (when I came over) — it is such a thoroughfare for bikes AND peds and it was dangerous for us all!

mat
Guest
mat

West side of Broadway bridge was very slick. A lot of smart people were walking it.

RJ
Guest
RJ

I didn’t see anybody trying to bike on the west end of the Broadway Bridge. All walking. It is super slick. Every other part of my ride was fine, even the I-5 overpasses.

Peter Koonce
Guest
Peter Koonce

I rode the PMLR new path and it was great. The only spot that seemed slippery was the Hawthorne Bridge which was very icy in spots and people were walking. I kept the bike straight and slower than usual and it was fine, except the people getting back on their bikes were slowing me down (just like the Cross Crusade!). The County often uses de-icing on the bridge, but it might not have worked in the exposed portions. Keep it slow.

Dru van Hengel
Guest
Dru van Hengel

Sorry Peter, it was probably my 10 year old getting back on his bike after taking a spill that slowed you down. Made me realize how close that sidewalk is to the vehicle roadway.

jb
Guest
jb

On the way to the Steel bridge (heading West), the overpass over the railroad tracks is one sheet of ice.

Blake
Guest

By the time I rode over around 9:30, they had put deicer on it and it was fine.

Katherine Rose
Guest
Katherine Rose

yep. wiped out here. oops!

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

Hawthorne wasn’t too bad. For some bizarre reason, there were like 10 riders going extremely slowly on the sidewalk portion of the viaduct, heading into downtown. I don’t even know how, or why, you would end up on that!! It looked far icier than the road.

Mark P.
Guest
Mark P.

The metal bridge portion along the Eastbank Esplanade, just north of Morrison was iced over last night and I heard from people coming the other way that the floating portions of the trail were icy as well. This morning I avoided the Esplanade and it was mostly okay riding conditions. The 12th Avenue bridge over I-84 was iced over though.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

The bridge over the train tracks by the ramp down to the northern end of the esplanade is covered in ice. Pretty easy to walk over. I didn’t try to bike it and everyone I saw was walking it.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

I-84 overpass on NE 53rd northbound definitely had a visible layer of ice, but rolled over in a nice, steady straight line and was alright. The rest of the route (53rd from Belmont to Tillamook to 57th to Cully and beyond) was totally fine.

Paul Souders
Guest

My son and I opted for the bus today. It was icy in our n’hood (Palatine hill/Tryon creek) at 630. We had a little actual snow yesterday though unlike the rest of town as I gather. The #51 bus (council crest) wasn’t running so it might slick up there. Much warmer & clearer downtown. I just crossed the Hawthorne (by bus) and lots of ppl walking across

Jason
Guest
Jason

East Side of Mt Tabor was a sheet of ice. So was the 205 bike path over Powell and Foster

Brent
Guest
Brent

I rode the Springwater Corridor from the Sellwood bridge to downtown. The path was clear of ice.

Craig Beebe
Guest
Craig Beebe

Lovely morning, just a bit of crunchy frost here and there — until I tried crossing the Banfield on Grand Avenue. Ice was thick and despite carrying a good amount of weight on my rack my bike slipped right out from under me. I’m lucky I landed directly on my butt and not on my elbow or wrist, but sitting doesn’t feel too great right now. Should have got off and walked.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Bike lane on Burnside Bridge looked icy and sounded crunchy at 5 am, I didn’t detect any real slipping of my tires but I was riding in a low gear and spinning smoothly in the saddle.

In general, figure that bridges can be icy even when other roads are not (less mass to retain heat), bike lanes are more likely to be slick than car lanes (no car tires to clear moisture), and avoid riding on leaf/twig/debris even more than usual. Manhole covers, steel plates, painted lines, streetcar tracks, and depressions that could retain water all deserve extra caution. If you’re riding on paths, avoid the edges where the pavement may be a bit mossy or rounded toward the lip.

In questionable conditions, stay in the saddle, pedal smoothly, avoid rapid acceleration/braking/swerving, do your braking before the turn, and keep the bike closer to vertical. Don’t follow other cyclists or cars too closely.

It is warming up so conditions should get better all day and this weekend.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

Hawthorne bike lanes westbound on the viaduct were very icy. Many people were stopped and someone told me there was a six bike pileup. On the west side people were walking their bikes on the concrete part west of the lift part of the bridge. There was a Multnomah County Bridges employee putting down deicer on the sidewalk all across the bridge with a grass seeder, which was more than I saw anyone doing on the lanes on the viaduct, e.g. apparently nothing, but it seemed like she could have been concentrating more on the slippery part. But I dunno — I’m not a deicing expert.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Interesting this is the first time I’ve heard of county or city putting deicer on bike section of roadway. Jonathan?

jeff
Guest
jeff

huh? they typically deice the bike portion the past 10 years I”ve been riding over it. missed it this time apparently.

Ben McLeod
Guest

I saw a city crew in an ATV applying de-icer to the Hawthorne Bridge sidewalk on Wednesday afternoon.

carye bye
Guest
carye bye

I didn’t bike yesterday at all just in case. A friend’s roommate bit it on the broadway sidewalk and broke a finger yesterday. But otherwise is okay.

andrea
Guest
andrea

Broadway Bridge – very icy. saw several falls. one person maybe had a more serious injury, he was waiting for help.

SEO
Guest
SEO

I left Woodstock heading East on the Springwater to my work in Gresham, thinking all was well: slippery in places, but roads and the trail passable. Then I got to Linneman Station and it was pure ice all the way. I had to “walk” the entire way from there to the GTC (which means teeny-tiny baby steps the entire time). At one point me and bike slid to the ground. I was about ready to go on my knees the rest of the way. It added an hour and a half to my commute. Thank goodness it was a two-hour late start…:/

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Driving a load from vegas to Portland. Nasty ice/slush mix east side of Cascades and chains required over Mt. Hood on Hwy 26.

How does this affect Portland?
More drivers with chains and traction tires come to Portland’s NOT icy roads and have worse traction.
Be careful when you hear chains or studs: the amateurs are out in full force.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The intelligent among us use studless traction tires.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

The intelligent among us know that any of the metal traction devices make traction much worse on anything other than icy surfaces.
Without the ability to dig in to a soft surface the normal contact patch per wheel can be reduced so greatly as to ensure loss of control on otherwise safe dry or wet roads.

I’ve heard there have been great engineering advances in design of studless winter tires in the last 5-10 years but haven’t noticed any thorough scientific studies by a Consumers Union, FHWA or similar neutral 3rd party.

Love me sum hard data, need more input!
/redneck Johnny 5

Pete
Guest
Pete

Can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to explain that!! (learned from a decade on the east side of Mt Hood with a 2wd and not from my Master’s in physics).

(I recommend Bridgestone Blizzaks btw).

Ben McLeod
Guest

A car with studded tires coming up behind me is one of the most frightening sounds that I can think of. Especially because the person driving that vehicle likely thinks (incorrectly) that their metal studs will stop them faster than non-studded tires.

Paul Atkinson
Guest
Paul Atkinson

Decided discretion was the better part of valor this morning, especially because I’m headed to school after work and won’t be heading home until close to 10pm. I had a friend break a hip a couple years ago on an icy morning.

Cold? No problem. Wet? Bring it on. Icy? Nooooope!

John Lascurettes
Guest

Got a ride home on Wednesday night and left my bike at work. Worked in my PJs on Thursday. Got a ride in with my Pannier and bike shoes this morning. I’ll ride home tonight with the roads thawed and dry. 🙂

I don’t know if I would have had the foresight, but if I had seen lots of people going down on the Broadway Bridge, or had known about it, I would have elected to take the lane on the bridge probably – you know that’s been deiced and driven on.

Patrick Barber
Guest

I’ll add to the chorus about the Broadway Bridge — westside approach was an ice rink! Great to know that it is being maintained but it’s too bad they couldn’t do that previous to morning rush hour! A lot of commuters, all walking, several having fallen before deciding to walk. This was at about 8:15am.

Be careful and remember that there are a lot of “bridges” that you don’t think of as bridges — any raised roadway or bridgehead can provide a nice icy surface.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Right, it’s not the water below that causes the freezing, it’s the fact that bridges are exposed to cold air from top and bottom.

Trikeguy
Guest
Trikeguy

Esther
Interesting this is the first time I’ve heard of county or city putting deicer on bike section of roadway. Jonathan?
Recommended 0

I saw them deicing the sidewalk portion of the Hawthorne bridge last year in this stuff too – they may do it as a matter of course due to the heavy traffic those sidewalks see.

Even with 3 wheels, I decided discretion was the better part of valor, I’ve come down Fairview in the ice before, it’s fun but nerve wracking 🙂

Moleskin
Guest
Moleskin

The Johnson Creek, McLoughlin and Railway bridges on the Springwater between Sellwood and Eastmoreland are EXTREMELY slick – very smooth layer of ice with a thin film of water to make it even more exciting. I and the guy ahead of me made it across the Railway bridge heading east (and I think this one is a bit better than the others) but he then ate it on the McLoughlin bridge, so we elected to walk the others, both of which were lethally icy. As SEO mentioned above for the Springwater further east, baby steps, and your bike (or you) may still fall over! The rest of the Springwater into town was beautiful.

Moleskin
Guest
Moleskin

sorry, I mean heading WEST

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Ankeny had some decent patches of ice this morning, especially in shady areas, but it wasn’t too bad. The worst part of my commute was probably the large patch of ice on the Burnside bridge approach heading west.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

The joints on the Hawthorne bridge were icy last night, and this morning I drove. I have been called a wimp and worse, but it takes a long time for a misalignment of my lumbago, resulting from a fall, to recover.
Be careful out there!

TK
Guest
TK

The sidewalk on the Sellwood Bridge was a sheet of ice. I started out riding and foolishly thought I had surprisingly good traction on the uphill portion going east to west. Then someone ahead of me was walking their bike across, so I decided to follow suit. Good thing. As soon as I got off my bike I realized just how treacherous it was. Walked the rest of the way holding onto the guard rail and barely kept my footing.

I echo the other comments here that the city really ought to consider spraying de-icer on the bridge sidewalks. If not for the bridges I feel much safer riding into work than driving during inclement weather, but I’m not looking to repeat this bridge experience anytime soon.

Zaphod
Guest

Broadway on westbound downhill side is ice rink grade slippery for 200′

Kirk
Guest

I chose to ride on the upper deck of the Steel Bridge to avoid any metal bridge panels. Best decision of the day 🙂 … Sunny, gorgeous views of our wonderful city, and I was the only person on the top.

Alicia
Guest
Alicia

I took the upper deck of the Steel Bridge this morning, too (the bottom was closed for a barge to go through), and I hit an icy patch. Got a couple bruises, but it could have been worse!

Gumby
Guest
Gumby

Shoulders of Barbur very icy in spots. Be prepared to take the lane.

groovin101
Guest
groovin101

I rode Airport Way East and it wasn’t too bad. The 205 path up to it was nice and dry, and Airport Way itself did have some ice in the shady parts, with clumps of frozen leaves and other fun obstacles. Slowed it down, tried to keep the bike straight, and gritted my teeth every time a car passed.

It didn’t get too nasty until about 158th, right before leaving Portland. At that point, the bike lane was solid white and I ended up taking a lane on Airport Way (45mph, yikes!) to avoid falling into traffic. Banking on the fact that this afternoon will be better…

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

NW streets were fine this morning.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Avoid the Thurman Street Bridge! Both the bridge deck and sidewalks were very icy this morning; I saw a car skidding out of control and spinning around on the bridge, despite traveling slowly.

Joe
Guest
Joe

steel bridge and all those wonky yellow strips that lead into bike lane.. stay off bot dots and paint strip.. 🙂 better to slow down and chill.

Nick
Guest
Nick

Studded bike tires on the mtn bike. No problems.

Champs
Guest
Champs

Haven’t encountered ice in lower NW, but the Everett bike lane is littered with thumb-sized tree branches and thick mats of slimy leaves. Frankly, I miss the wake that cars used to leave. It cleared a nice path.

justoaa
Guest
justoaa

Just got off Broadway bridge. Completely fine. Only the smallest patches of ice

Jeff S
Guest
Jeff S

all clear on the Hawthorne Br. westbound as of 10:30, except for one 50′ spot on the viaduct in the shade of a building that seemed to still be frozen. Dont let it sneak up on you…

Curt Ailes
Guest

N Going headed down to Swan Island was pretty dry this morning except where the path goes over the UP rail yard towards the bottom of the hill. Some icy patches, but kept it straight and no wipe-outs.

krhea
Guest
krhea

SW riders: Do not attempt riding up SW Montgomery between SW Elm and SW Buena Vista. Road is complete ice sheet starting at the “mansion” on the curve. Numerous cars have slide into each other and are currently just setting there. Impossible to walk up the hill on road or sidewalk surfaces. Be careful. Take SW Elm over to Vista and ride Vista(carefully) up the hill.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

As of last night (11/17), this was a bit better. Had to walk up the “guard rail” section of Montgomery as there wasn’t a way to connect the ice-free dots while rolling. Also got stuck climbing Patton up to Humphrey; the climbing lane turned into a sheet of ice just past the park. I started walking it, and kept wishing there was a big enough break in traffic to haul my bike into the middle of the lane and start cranking up the hill again. Caught a break and rode the last 100 feet or so to the intersection. Hewett had a couple of ice patches left, but my light was good enough to spot them in time to slow down and avoid.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Vancouver (WA): The city crews added deicer to westside / downtown arterials Wednesday PM/ Thursday AM. Though in my quick inspection on the way to work yesterday… I noticed that they avoided spraying the bike lanes (and ADA curb ramps) with deicer along sections with deicer added to the motor vehicle lanes.

Any other winter maintenance reports from Vancouver’s east or north side from this last storm?

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

I noticed last season that the City avoids spraying deicer in the bike lanes. I asked a supervisor at PBOT Maintenance about this last season and she gave a reason why that is, but I can’t recall what that was. I wish someone from PBOT would formally weigh in on this.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

The trace of snow/sleet was all but gone by Saturday, and the 60+mph winds would have been the worst part of riding on Thurs and Fri. The road surface was mostly ridable even during the storm (I walked). The long tail of it, though, is all the fir boughs that came down and got pushed to the road sides. The city is doing a pretty good job cleaning up but there are still a few bike lanes with drifts of boughs, leaves and branches.

miguel
Guest

today i saw a cyclist slip on the bridge over 84 on 28th at around 8am. i saw it happen from ~100 ft away – the bridge was visibly icy. well cyclist, whoever you are, i hope you’re not too banged up.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

As I always say to other cyclists…

“it’s not the fall that will kill you, but what is following the fall”…

e.g. a motorized vehicle following you on your bike.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Broadway Bridge okay at 4:10 pm tonight.

Doug Reid
Guest
Doug Reid

I ride studded tires in the winter. They are helpful on ice and frost (along with being prudent). Studs also are a benefit on wet leaves if they aren’t too thick. They don’t seem to help much on packed snow or if the snow is too deep for the tires to reach the road surface.