Even on a fatbike, it's treacherous out there today. Need studded tires. #pdxtst @BikePortland pic.twitter.com/SGdFA6TCQ7
— TLP:RAD (@howrad) January 17, 2017
The punches keep coming from this heavyweight winter. While Portland seems to have avoided torrential flood risks, now forecasters warn of a freezing rain/ice storm. Combined with all the ice and snow already covering our roads, this could lead to treacherous riding this morning (Tuesday, 1/17).
After requests by a few readers, we’ve decided to crowdsource the road conditions for those of us who choose to venture out on foot or bike or other non-motorized conveyence.
If you do need to use the roads, probably best to do it before noon as conditions are expected to worsen later in the day.
We are doing this because non-motorized travel has been all but forgotten during this storm: Road agencies have focused almost exclusively on auto travel, many businesses and residences have still not bothered to shovel snow and ice from their properties; and most bikeways — even main ones like Williams Ave and the various paths that thousands rely on every day — are also still under a sheet of ice. People who rely on mobility devices have been hit especially hard.
Please use this post to share your experiences and knowledge about the conditions of key bikeways, paths and sidewalks.
Hang in there! And make good decisions.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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It is shameful that Providence St. Vincent’s hospital has not removed the snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent to their property on SW Barnes Road. Mostly the same with nearby Peterkort.
I feel bad if I don’t clear the sidewalk in front of my house…
there’s no way as a business owner that I’d take the risk of a lawsuit and not clear my sidewalk…
but it’s a hospital, so they can just take care of you when you fall due to their negligence…
I tried clearing the sidewalk in front of my place days ago. It is impenetrable compacted snow and ice. 🙁
That’s surprising, as Providence Portland has by far the best sidewalks of any place I’ve seen in the city in the last week.
Agreed, I walked by the NE Glisan location last night and their sidewalks were excellent!
West side vs. east side culture for you. Very few people walk to St V. and they don’t seem to do anything to encourage it. They even have a shuttle bus that runs to the Sunset TC…
The Sunset Transit Center is the second most busy transit center in Washington County. Some new businesses have opened up nearby (cafe at Cornell Farms and The Little Store is expected to open soon on SW 90th Ave by two big schools).
Providence Portland (Glisan) has a shuttle bus that runs from the Hollywood transit center. I don’t think that’s very odd among hospitals.
looking at the forecast and current conditions I would advise people to not go out now and to wait until later when the rain is melting the snow and ice…
but I’ve been out every day in this storm doing my normal commute and being mostly unaffected by all the weather…
groaning at all my cow-orkers who are working from home because they rely on their cars… but at least it’s nice and quiet at the office…
For the first time in my life, I requested (and was granted) permission to work from home based on anticipated weather conditions.
Interstate isn’t bad. NoPo back streets are rough and icy. After we get a layer of freezing rain, it’s going to be very treacherous. I would not recommend riding here unless you have a snow bike with studs.
If this town is ever going to be serious about reducing driving, the public transit system just has to get more reliable. It fails every time people need it most and right now, the only viable way for people who aren’t especially able bodied and adventurous is by car.
Many people genuinely need to get to work. My job isn’t so critical which is why I can work from home, but if you do things as mundane as administer medications to people in a hospital or feed animals in a shelter, lives depend on you getting through.
the governor declared a state of emergency in Oregon, which to me says that if you’re able to work from home then you’re automatically given permission…
if they were to deny you they’d be risking a huge lawsuit if you were injured commuting to work…
on the other hand, I think it was overkill to declare a state of emergency for a little snow…
public transit is the only safe mode right now…
the only small problem is getting to it because people aren’t clearing their sidewalks… and since it’s somehow a “state of emergency” I don’t think they can be forced to clear them…
you can put ice spikes on your shoes and not have any problems…
this has been ongoing for weeks, if you’re not prepared by now then you’re doing it wrong and there’s not much we can do for you…
Public transit might be safe, but it won’t get you there. Many bus lines are not running at all. MAX is completely hosed. Transit tracker is useless so if you stand at a stop, you can have no faith anything is actually coming — or that it will have space when it arrives.
My commute is 8 miles each way. Last Friday I skied in, partly because I prefer active transport, partly because I knew it would be faster. In the afternoon when they theoretically had the MAX running, zero trains passed me between Moda and Lombard — covering a distance like that on foot shouldn’t be faster.
If I had to go in today, I would have jogged since it’s no big deal on microspikes (the sad thing is that even on a normal day, I could beat public transit on foot). But that would be out of reach for most people. For them, a vehicle gives the best chance.
This is the polar opposite of the experience I’ve had. Transit Tracker has been accurate for the 12, 17, 71, and 75 lines that I’ve used. Service has been reliable, transfer times under 5 minutes, and travel times only slightly longer than normal due to 25 mph speed cap balanced by lower individual automobile traffic
You’re lucky TriMet has been usable for you. This was not my experience at all. I waited for half an hour for the 71 yesterday. On my way back home, I got the “due to major delays, TransitTracker is unable to predict arrival times” message from the TriMet website. I checked the 75 and the next bus was over 10 miles away. The 14 has been awful as well. Every single time, I ventured out this weekend, it has taken me two hours to get home – mostly spent waiting for buses that never show or jump from 5 minutes to 25 minutes on the tracker. Last night, I opted to walk the two miles home.
Mixed bag, for me. The 14 has been great, although someone must be waiting a long time because the buses seem to be traveling in herds. Friday after work I chose to take the 70, rather than 6 or streetcar, heading south. Transit tracker showed several six miles out, and they seemed to be taking about a minute per tenth of a mile. I walked from NE Irving to SE Hawthorne, mostly along my regular bike commute route. Less entertaining than I hoped, but warmer than standing at the stop for an hour.
There may be some lines that are getting through, but my experiences with transit have been abysmal lately — we’re talking unusable as opposed to inconvenient.
If you look at the Trimet service alerts page right now, you’ll see a long list of routes where service is canceled outright and as well as others where it is significantly limited, delayed, or suffers from some other serious problem.
This is just how it’s been lately, and there is no distance or destination I would be willing to trust it for without specific information indicating it’s running where I need it.
it’s gotten me everywhere I’ve wanted to go the last month without too much hassle…
the 17 from my house has been reliable…
the 14 and 15 to and from downtown have been reliable…
the 77 bus was nonexistent yesterday and the 17 out of downtown was also WAY out, so I took the 15 and 14… I almost took the 9…
so other than a slight delay yesterday my 8.5 commute via transit to work has been largely unaffected…
granted I have the privilege of having those frequent lines within walking distance…
out light-rail system is kind of a joke, but it’s not bad in decent weather if you’re not in a hurry…
This has been my experience with TriMet too. It is slower than usual, because of road conditions and chains, but it still continues to get me around town. It could be better, but realistically that won’t happen until we have separate infrastructure or people stop driving cars with bald tires around in this weather.
10s been scarce–I would’ve said “absent” but my husband said he saw it. Don’t know about the 4…
I just sent an infuriated email with pictures to Margi Bradway, copying Leah Treat, about knocking some sense into people about their sidewalks. The pictures were of two houses on my walk to the bus where the residents had cleared their driveways but ignored the sidewalks. They had the means to do the job, but no inclination. I haven’t been east of 35th on Hawthorne for a couple of days, but I would bet that any number of businesses feel no responsibility, either. There is a legal obligation to maintain a safe sidewalk – that’s why the city makes you repair the badly heaved ones (if someone complains). Let’s complain.
I’ve been walking around using Yak Trax (lifesaver!) and have wished a hundred times that I had some little flyers to put on people’s doors saying either ‘Thank you for clearing your sidewalk!” or (sadly way more often) “Your un-cleared sidewalk was dangerous and difficult for me today.” MAYBE residences can be excused for lack of physical ability, but there’s no excuse for businesses. Even my nearby Whole Foods, generally a decent neighbor, failed to clear the public sidewalks around their store.
Sidewalk shoveling has to be a peer-pressure based shame game, or it won’t happen.
I think we’re so far to the side of “no shoveling” that peer pressure is just not going to happen. We need enforcement, plain and simple.
I tried to clear the way in front of my house, but it was impossible sheet of thick ice.
You need to purchase a bag of salt (or the safer compound) and dump it the first day after the snowfall. I was able to clear my sidewalk fine once I put that out and let it do its work. You (and many of your neighbors) waited too long to shovel.
Trick is to shovel it before it gets compacted by foot traffic and melted down to ice.
Although, this only happens once every few years. If it happened multiply times a year, every year, then maybe we can complain. The second day the snow hit real hard, my buddy stayed at my place so he didn’t have to commute back to Camby. He walked over to Fred Myer to buy a shovel and they were sold out.
Maybe the problem lies with department stores only having a few shovels on their shelves…
Dude. People for whom driving is an option were able to get around, albeit annoyingly and a little less safe. People who walk unsteadily, use wheelchairs, or use strollers were pretty much immobilized in their homes, and people who walk to transit were subject to a high level of inconvenience and some danger (mostly from Trimet’s unreliability, but also from most everyone not shoveling). That’s not an OK level of impact to have on vulnerable populations for a week, even once every X years.
There’s also a legal obligation for the city to maintain and have clear roads, but that clearly hasn’t happened either (especially important for streets with no sidewalks).
I shoveled my walk (and my drive) and then a plow blew snow back over it again. By the time I saw it three days later it’s too late, it’s just ice now.
Speaking hypothetically (cough), if you, say, procrastinated with the shoveling until the frozen substance got mashed down and became an impenetrable shell/shield and you went out and hammered at it awhile to little avail and then you, hypothetically, thought “Oh, it’ll rain/thaw soon…!” and backed away slowly into the house… Will I—I mean, that person—go to hell?
Depends entirely on your religion. I think a bag full of wood chips might be helpful in that situation. If you’re not immediately taken down into the flames, they’d provide some traction and not be a problem after the melt. If you are immediately ushered through the gates of hell, well, you’re helping feed their fire.
Wait–is this Satan?
Not on my legal ID. I’m not even a Pastafarian.
Church of the FSM! 🙂
I’ve been telecommuting for a few years now. It’d be nice to have a place to go to once in a while.
Allow me to recommend Nedspace, a coworking space downtown. I signed up for access to their bike parking — it’s in a locked room in a heated garage — but their work area is nice too and I would use the hot desks if I didn’t already have an office downtown.
Nice, it looks like they have moved. I visited them years ago at their old location and it reminded me of every horrible temp job I’d had in Portland in the late 90s, so I passed on it. I shall check them out again.
I bike in with a trailer and storing it during the day is a challenge – Nedspace was the first place I could find that could rent me bike parking that I could use without unhitching / folding, etc. Definitely check it out, I think the space is quite nice. Maybe there will be one more bike in the bike room?
I use Albina Press as my Coffice…
I read so many drivers complaining about road conditions, but I rarely see anybody with a properly equipped motor vehicle on the roads…
why do we let people drive in these conditions without chains or 4wd? you’d get a ticket if you were up on Mt Hood with no traction devices…
Agreed. They need to be much more aggressive about informing people of what they need and enforcing it.
Improperly equipped vehicles have zero chance of climbing or descending an icy incline. Even then, you just have to use your head. Once this ice storm hits, people won’t even be able to stop on the flats — just the curvature of the road for drainage will undoubtedly cause people to slide off the side.
We’re 6 days past the last snow. People shouldn’t need specialty vehicles to get around a major city. The roads should be clear. PBOT and ODOT have bungled this snow removal so badly. Some of these missed school days are completely on them. Even Clackamas has done a much better job than PBOT. I don’t understand why there hasn’t been more media coverage of it. At least the O is finally getting to it:
I’ve been mountain biking to work every day, but yesterday, last night, was by far the worst, so I think I’m just going to stay home today.
I disagree with putting so much of the blame on PBOT and ODOT. This was a freak storm and they don’t have the money, staffing, or experience to deal with it. AND They would have been able to do a lot more if they didn’t have to respond to so many of the very bad decisions people made — like all the truck and auto users who didn’t chain up when they were supposed to. Or all the people who just abandoned their cars and left them for PBOT/ODOT and others to deal with. Or all the people who simply drove too fast for the conditions and got into fender-benders.. Or all the people who got their cars stuck on MAX tracks and caused our public transit to be delayed. The list goes on.
They were out there the day after the storm. I get the argument that this is a rare occurrence (that argument only really holds for 48-72 hours), but they had the plows running, and as far as I can tell they actually “plowed” the arterials. The problem is they clearly didn’t know what they were doing (not actually plowing to the pavement, instead compacting everything to make the incredibly thick ice that we now have on all major streets). And they clearly look to have just given up the last 4-5 days. When the snow started to melt and we got slush on arterials the last few days they should have been out there busting it up and getting the roads clear. They’ve had a few windows to make an impact and have just made things worse. I don’t buy the lack of experience argument, they have literally hundreds of other DOTs from around the country to draw knowledge and set up a plan from. I don’t blame the drivers who around Friday finally gave up on the city making the roads any better and decided they needed to get out. The city failed us. plain and simple. And don’t even get me started on the lack of use of salt.
Perhaps in light of Vision Zero and the increasing costs of repaving streets, might the response by PBOT and ODOT within Portland be deliberate? It sounds like motorists are being exceptionally (and unusually) cautious. They may be hitting each other (fender-benders), but it doesn’t sound like they are hitting pedestrians and bicyclists anymore. Many on BP advocate for 20 mph city-wide – now you can see the results of 20 mph on arterial roads. In spite of the reduced speeds, are drivers able to get where they need to go?
As far as salt is concerned, the (relatively minimal) costs for laying out the salt will add hugely to the costs of later repaving the streets afterwards, as salt accelerates the paving-wear process. Given it’s $1 billion pavement backlog, might PBOT’s lack of salting be a long-term fiscally-sound response to the still limited funds available to repave? As long as emergency vehicles are moving and able to get to incidents, why should PBOT or ODOT go further?
This does seem like a reasonable argument. But regardless of the fiscal wisdom of more plowing and salt, I think actual, citywide enforcement of the sidewalk shoveling requirement is a good idea in order to maintain mobility by walking, wheelchair, stroller, and (getting to) transit. I think this should be crowdsourced via the PDX Reporter app – a photo of your house from 24 hours after the snow ends with the sidewalk not shoveled should be enough to have a fine be sent to you. I don’t think the cost of this would be all that high, and I think the benefit would be tremendous, especially for people in wheelchairs and strollers and older folks who are less steady walking during the rare times that we have storms.
So what about about all the people that live on roads without sidewalks and depend on the street to be clear?
Well, that would still be a problem, and one that I definitely care about (I live on a neighborhood collector street in East Portland that doesn’t have sidewalks… except for the frontage of my house). It’s a huge embarassment that there are still collector and arterial streets in Portland without sidewalks. We should fix both problems (shoveling existing sidewalks, and building sidewalks where there are none)
One wonders how much of a fortune PBOT would make by fining property owners for not shoveling. All it would take is for a few people to walk up and down streets, noting the address of violators, and sending them a fine in the mail. Crowdsourcing could work too, but I’d imagine PBOT would still need to verify. I’ve even seem some people shovel their driveway, but not the sidewalk! How selfish! At any rate, the lack of shoveling needs to be enforced somehow – it’s quite treacherous to even be walking around town at the moment.
A small sample size and reduced numbers of pedestrians, cars, and especially cyclists makes trying to extrapolate this to “normal” road conditions a stretch.
My garbage/recycling service never came. Not quite the same level as an ambulance, but an essential service nonetheless.
I had my first mail service since last Tuesday today.
As far as sidewalks are concered, my house was built in 1958. a sidewalk and street drain assessment was made then. The money was used for the sidewalks and curbs for Intel half a county away. I still do not have sidewalks or curbs. There is a ditch in front of the house that cars and busses have gone into in inclement weather. the highway department or? says they have no money for curbs or sidewalks. Fortunately we do have an unmarked bike lane.
Yes, walking around downtown I’ve been amazed at what a terrible job PBOT did plowing. I grew up in the Northeast and NEVER saw anything like the inch of compacted snow and ice on pretty much every street downtown. It’s incompetence, plain and simple.
I’d say PBOT and ODOT deserve some of the blame for their refusal to pre-salt the streets. It would have prevented the ice from bonding to the pavement.
The ice that PBOT helped create by their inadequate plowing (or should I call it “skimming and compacting)
Thank you PBOT and ODOT for NOT salting the roads. It is not necessary and is very destructive.
If people choose to drive their inadequate vehicles with questionable winter driving skills, it is on them. Let them handle the burden and responsibilty for any chaos they may create – But please do not salt roads just to make it easier for people to drive their 2wd, bald tire, no chain vehicles around.
Thank you Mike. I agree with you 100%.
It’s not just for people with cars. I do not drive, and the lack of salt not only severely impacted public transport to the point of being unusable, but affects people walking too. Remember, you have to cross a street every 200 feet, and most are a sheet of ice. Try crossing the icy Powell Boulevard in the 20 seconds the signal gives you. It’s not possible.
There are other de-icers that have less of an environmental impact that PBOT apparently is aware of and occasionally uses. However, they seem to not understand that you must pre-treat the roads, not apply de-icer after the ice has already formed. Once the ice bonds to the pavement, there’s is nothing you can do but wait for it to melt. Additionally, this is a once in a few years storm – it’s not as if we are salting the roads all winter every year.
There also seems to be some paranoia here that if you salt the roads, the cars will all rust out. Not sure why that’s more important than avoiding mayhem and injuries, but that’s how it is.
While salt makes a difference, it doesn’t make that much of a difference — particularly since cars are much more rust resistant than they were in the 70’s.
Besides, the salt air along the entire coast is much more intense than a bit of salt on the roads.
Salt is corrosive to infrastructure like bridges and overpasses, not just cars.
Sure, but if it were that bad, the entire coast would be hosed.
It sort of is–anything metal out there salt corrodes in no time flat!
Not to mention the fact that schools/businesses/government offices/etc have had to remained close for a substantial amount of time.
You’re setting your standards way too low if you think that still having this much snow and ice on the roads 6 days after snowfall is acceptable or normal.
Anyone that was driving around last Tuesday could easily see that they did pre-treat all of the arterials with de-icer. Then we got a foot of snow, which was quickly compacted. PBOT would need to double or triple their equipment and crews if they wanted to stay on top of weather events like this. Fortunately, this only happens once every decade or so.
These agencies have not been plowing when it softened up. They made the mess by compacting the snow into ice. I have been out everyday and I saw one plow. It was parked. Salt can stay in Chicago, btw.
It’s ironic that both Portland and Chicago refer to themselves as “The City That Works”.
These snow storms just don’t happen that often. Last one that I can remember was in 2013 and then I can’t remember past that. I feel like people are acting as if this type weather is an everyday occurrence.
You don’t need specialty vehicles. You do need traction devices though because ice storms are normal here even if the amount of snow we have is highly unusual.
True, but today is the first “ice storm” portion. Up until now it has been 16 hours of snow and then 6 days of aftermath.
this is only the first ice THIS WEEK… we had ice the week before…
if after 3 weeks of ice and snow you’re still having issues then you haven’t taken the proper steps to prepare yourself…
you don’t need specialty vehicles…
as I stated, you need traction devices, which can include 4wd, but also chains, which tons of stores carry… they were still in stock the day of the big snow…
In the Midwest, where snowy winters last 3-5 months, chains and 4WD are very rare, and even studded tires aren’t universal. Most people do quite well driving with front-wheel drive with either winter tires or 4-season tires. As with bicycling on ice and packed snow, the trick is to drive much slower with lower tire pressure, avoid panicking, avoid sudden stops, and follow your momentum around curves rather than trying to counteract against it. Most folks also carry an emergency kit in case they get stuck, including tools, a shovel, jumper cables, a car defibrillator, and energy bars.
Jumper cables for their bike? That seems excessive.
I’ve even seen a bicyclist with a shovel, to remove drifts on bike paths, but the kits I had in mind were for cars, not bikes.
If my car needs a defib, it needs to retire.
4wd is very rare in the midwest? Not true in Michigan or Ohio.
Granted, I drove a lowered Civic on all season tires year round, but to say 4wd is very rare is just absolutely false.
is the midwest they salt their roads and cars older than 15 years old are rare…
It is a piece of cake driving and riding on dry snow and packed snow on relatively flat cities. Portland quickly turns to ice which is nearly impossible to ride or drive on safely. Personally I have not missed a day of work due to the weather and I have a 20 mile one way commute from Portland to near Newberg. I have not had to use chains except for the 2 blocks to my house which is off the main street. As long as you drive carefully and avoid steep hills there are no problems. While I do commute by bike in the spring, summer, and fall I would not try to take 2 wheels on 99/Barbur with ice.
And a Pee bottle!
I love how this lined up like a complete non sequitur. 🙂
The pee melts the ice!!!
I also carry emergency cheese, and a picture of Prince.
(in response to D. Hampsten re: the emergency kit)
Dirty secret: you are about as likely to win the lottery as to get ticketed for driving up Hood without the appropriate traction control devices.
Yesterday was probably the worst commute for me of this snowfall since day one. There is so much glassy, shiny, deadly stuff out there, particularly on the footpath with YoMi Sushi on the South Waterfront. I was forced to take a lane on Naito – fine in the light of morning, not so fun in the evening.
There are signals out around town, notably on Pine and 5th, which is a busy MAX and Bus intersection.
The rain has not yet materialized, and it felt like it was less bitter cold today then yesterday. This correspondent is remaining cautiously hopeful, as the supply of Chinese take out is running low, and things are getting dire at home.
we’ve been ordering groceries delivered through New Seasons / Amazon…
We did too! I felt mean making them navigate our sidewalk… At least our stairs and porch are worse. Wait…
I made studded shoes last night! Ten 1/2″ hex screws per shoe does the trick. I highly recommend having a pair of old shoes outfitted with these. At about 8 cents each, this $1.60 solution is a life saver.
Jogged in to work this morning (Gladstone, Orange line pathway, OMSI, Hawthorne bridge, waterfront) with no problems. Another quiet morning commute.
Did you drill them in old running shoes? I kinda love this idea…
I had a few tools to tinker with, but if the sole is soft enough you can almost do it by hand. Ratcheting screwdriver worked well for really getting it lodged in, and I sampled using a drill to make a pilot hold through a tough part.
Broadway bridge is absolute garbage.
yes it is, but how’s the sidewalk?
I’ve been out of town for a bit over a year now in warmer climes, so I am wondering, are there any Midwesterners in Portland who can give me an unbiased assessment of how the winter conditions in Portland this year compare to a typical winter in Minneapolis, for example? Is it the usual snow one week, then it melts when the relatively warmer west wind brings the rain? Or is it lingering ice and packed snow for weeks on end, like a normal Midwestern winter?
Native Chicagoan here. In the midwest, they pre-salt the roads before any snow event, so the roads never have a chance to ice over. Snow is plowed into the gutters (and bike lanes, unfortunately). The snow sticks around all winter, however, and turns a disgusting shade of grey from all the car exhaust. Overall it’s still an annoyance, but most sidewalks are salted and shoveled and there is very rarely any ice.
Another thing about Chicago that’s interesting… a decade ago when I lived there a lot of bridges had steel-grating surfaces, which made them pretty treacherous in any sort of rain or cold. Since then they’ve improved things in the bike lanes significantly. I don’t know what the surface they put over the grating in the bike lane is, but it does work (they had it on the Wells Street bridge when I lived there, but not on other bridges I used often like Kinzie and Halsted). On Kinzie the wood-plank sidewalks didn’t give reliable traction, either — sidewalk riding is illegal in Chicago, so I’d walk over the bridge in bad weather, and even then I had to be careful on those sidewalks.
Yeah, those open-grate bridges are a death trap. I would always walk my bike over them. A few years back, bike advocate Kathy Schubert started a letter writing campaign to the Chicago Department of Transportation. Since then, CDOT has generally been pretty good about installing the so-called “Kathy” plates on most bridges.
Somewhere in between but closer to what you call the “typical,” involving complete melting between “storms.” I’d say this winter has actually not been typical for Portland, at least not typical of the decade I’ve been in Portland, though certainly not nearly as bad as a normal winter in Minneapolis or Buffalo. What I’d say has been different this year has been the number of “storms” and the fact that the east wind has kept the area cold for close to a week after each one.
From a DC-native perspective, the only bona fide winter storms we’ve had have been I believe two ice storms and the recent foot of snow. Every other “storm” has been like an inch or two of snow that just hardened into ice because of a complete lack of preparation with road de-icer, plowing, and enforcement of the sidewalk ordinance.
This kind of weather in greater Portland wasn’t so unusual when I was a kid. I don’t remember it being so paralyzing, though. I lived way out SE–Gresham/Boring/Troutdale–and we’d (cue snickering) have to walk a mile in the snow to reach the predetermined “snow bus” stop on Telford.
During one memorable silver thaw, all my brothers managed to flee to their girlfriends’ houses before the original storm hit and me and my mom and sisters were pretty much trapped in the house for days with no electricity. I wound up walking the couple miles to Boring (McCall’s!) for food and supplies and I remember how miserable it was to try to progress on a solid sheet of ice over at least a foot of snow! Hilly out where we lived, too…
My gud, I sound like Laura Ingalls Wilder.
er…Damascus, not Troutdale, doh.
Sounds pretty paralyzing – if that happened to most BP posters today, they’d be making a huge deal of it. No-one posting in this thread has been trapped in their home for days, without power for days, or walking miles in the snow to buy food. Yet, from the volume of complaints, you’d think they deserve compensation for their inconvenience.
Well there’s this:
My wife is nine months pregnant and a fall would be deadly for our future daughter. We have had to walk miles home after the buses never showed, and the sidewalks have generally been quite slippery and impassible. So yes, I believe I have a legitimate complaint.
I felt pretty hardy until I read this…
“…one in five women on the Westward trail was either pregnant or gave birth at some point on the journey. So, not only did most women not want to go to California or Oregon at all, but a large minority of them were also having to ride in a constantly jolting wagon, walk for miles, endure the baking hot and freezing cold weather, often mind other small children (it wasn’t unusual for women to travel with families of up to 10 children), help with gathering twigs and food and buffalo chips, wade through swamps, ride across raging rivers in canoes, scramble up mountainsides, and sleep in the open air, all while heavily pregnant.”
Ugh! And yikes.
John–hah! 🙂 It was fun–an adventure, always. We were really excited about the silver thaws, especially–so beautiful.
I’ve noticed–esp. this winter–that people who’ve lived here all their lives (or many years) look at these snow events–including the inconveniences–very differently than many newcomers. We like the weather-enforced slowdown, the quiet, even the extra effort to get where you need to go (usually on foot, or by bus. It can be an all-day effort, believe me–I know!). Our shameful lackadaisical attitude toward shoveling is, I believe, reflective of that old Portlander love of a snow day. Like I said in a previous post–I can’t remember hearing anyone get upset about people not shoveling their sidewalks…until this year. And I heard it a lot–hear and in the news. I worried about it getting litigious sorts all kinds of ideas.
All that said, I’m worried about our local merchants and am wishing them all the best. I will come b(u)y!
“here,” not “hear.” Doh!
I haven’t been in Portland for most of this (although I am now), but my workplace is in the Portland area. I’m in daily contact with my coworkers and have a pretty good handle on how things have been. Still no comparison with a Minneapolis winter, where snow is cleared off the streets, sidewalks and bike paths pretty promptly, but otherwise sticks around all winter. We’ve had about two feet of snow this year in Minneapolis, which is about normal for this time of year. In an average winter (which this is shaping up to be) the snow total is about 54″.
What Portland has had this year might start to approach VERY mild winter in Minnesota – in terms of snow. But in terms of cold, not even close. Hillsboro dropped to 5F a few days ago (coldest in 44 years!) – that same day, Minneapolis had a HIGH of about 5F for the first time in days, and I will not kid you that it actually felt warm. Today was the first morning low above freezing in Portland since Dec. 8, but Minneapolis has been known to go that long without having a high above freezing.
However, I suspect that what Portland’s experienced might well be in line with what’s normal in the southern Midwest – northern Missouri/central Illinois/southern Ohio, etc. Someone more familiar with those areas might be able to answer that.
I’ve lived in Ohio, upstate New York, and Colorado, and this is not a normal packed snow. Even the arterials are still packed ice/snow, with a few ruts. It’s bad. PBOT has done a terrible, terrible job. I have yet to see a single street (even major arterials like 39th, Foster, 82nd) that have even a single lane completely clear of snow and ice.
I live on an arterial and the plows clearly don’t really know what they’re doing (or they were under strict orders to not damage the streets at any cost), as they day after the snow they were just compacting everything into 2-3 inches. The plows were not low enough down to actually pow down to pavement. They essentially made the roads worse than if they hadn’t been out at all. And on top of all that a plow came by later and plowed the parking lane in front of my house right onto the sidewalk I had shoveled. I haven’t seen a plow in 5 days. I really do think they just gave up and are waiting for it to melt. It’s honestly crazy. And by midwest standards, the arterials would at least by plowed 2 days after the snow.
Alex & SE Rider, thank you for your response. Very helpful.
you are right, they purposely are not lowering the plows to the street level to avoid damaging the road… the city has stated as such…
Then what’s the point?
they’re clearing the bulk that would physically prevent you from moving due to you high-centering on built-up snow… it’s still up to you to ensure you have enough traction (chains, studs, 4wd) to stop and go safely…
right now most people are driving around with as much traction as the driver that killed the cyclist on the St John’s Bridge…
where’s the outrage? does somebody need to die before we care?
Well, I hope all the chains on pacement aren’t damaging the roads… Some roads are fine and others are not drivable withour traction devices.
I haven’t had any issues driving around. We have been using two cars. One is front wheel drive with studless snow tires. Other is AWD with good all season tires. Icy arterials, unplowed side streets, patchy freeways, I’ve been driving between the east side, Beaverton, Vancouver, and downtown, without incident or problem. Actually it’s been pretty fun.
My friends with 2WD and summer tires say they are unable to drive anywhere. They’ve been calling me for rides. I don’t doubt their inability to drive, but a $50 set of chains, or a $300 set of snow tires (they last many years if you put them on only when needed), would have taken care of their problem.
So I’d say, if someone knows they really need to be able to drive (for work or to care for others, let’s say), but hasn’t taken the necessary steps to prepare, then the problem is in part of their own doing.
As for PBOT, the forecast when all this started was for 1″ to 4″ of snow, not the 6″ to 10″ that we got, and I don’t recall any forecast for an extended stay in the freezer. In that light, I think the plowing and preparation were reasonable.
I think people are underestimating how hard it would be to get and keep the arterials ice free, much less the sidewalks and bike lanes. Portland snow is not Midwest snow, it is very wet and turns to ice very easily. A very large amount of salt or other de-icer would be necessary, with repeated applications and running plow blades right down to pavement. I used an entire bag of de-icer and most of a large can of salt, to keep my stairs, walkway, driveway and sidewalk ice-free, and it only worked for about two days, now my sidewalk is ice like everyone else’s. Portland has about 1/4 the number of plows, as a Midwestern city of the same size.
Bottom line: this is something that happens once every ten years, maybe once every twenty years, depending on if you think this is worse than 2008. Yeah, we’re not prepared. The city isn’t prepared, TriMet isn’t prepared, most of you and your fellow residents aren’t prepared. And thus we are inconvenienced.
Get over it. Don’t we have more important things to whimper and whine about, than a week of inconvenience from a once in some number of decades event?
Or would you prefer that PBOT take its bike infrastructure budget and spend it on 200 snowplows that will almost never have anything to do?
Agree across the board!
From my admittedly privileged locale in SE, I say put on some boots and take advantage of that high walk score for a few days!
“Portland snow is not Midwest snow, it is very wet and turns to ice very easily.”
That was not true at all with this snowfall. Within two days it was so dry that it was virtually impossible to make a snowball. and even yesterday some back streets still had 3-6 inches of churned up snow that just wasn’t compacting. We waited to too long to make a snowman and my daughter was disappointed. The point is that PBOT really didn’t need to do much differently to have major effects, just lower the plows and actually PLOW (Something Clackamas county figured out how to do). Clearing the arterials the first night was doable even with the small amount of plows we have (considering that most were skimmed within 24 hours).
Yet the base layer of snow did in fact turn to compacted, bonded ice on the arterials, within just a day. And sidewalks became icy just a day later. I’d call that turning to ice easily.
All snow will do that if you walk or drive on it enough (especially when the ground is not frozen to begin with, like here).
Thanks Jonathan! I had taken my mountain bike for short trips or neighborhood recreational rides with luck, but its not set up for commuting. Have either been working from home or driving in because i just don’t trust my commuter in the icy lanes. Seriously cannot wait for the melt and get back to my bike.
Can you tell us more about what sets a bike up for your commuting needs?
Primarily my mountain bike doesn’t have fenders, light brackets, or anything to attach panniers or bags to. So in a pinch I can clip lights to me/ use a headlamp and carry a backpack, it’s still not ideal. And without fenders, I’m not sure I want to spit slush up my back for 11-12 miles RT.
I haven’t ridden since Thursday. Relying on TriMet this weekend has been extremely trying. The bus tracker has been non-functional – the times are not accurate and buses will drop off at random (even using TriMet’s own mile-based tracker). Every journey home has taken upwards of two hours – even ones of just a few miles. Lots of waiting in the cold or walking miles when a bus never shows up. Buses all get bunched too, so you wait half an hour, then two buses show up at the same time.
At this point, your feet are the most reliable form of transport, however about two-thirds of sidewalks have not been shoveled, leading to icy sidewalks. I’d like to specifically call out Plaid Pantry for their atrocious conditions: of all off the locations I visited, their sidewalks and parking lots have been a massive sheet of ice. Even many TriMet bus stops were not shoveled or salted. Lots of walking in the street, hoping drivers won’t hit you. A big thank you to the property owners who did shovel – it makes a huge difference!
I really, really hope PBOT reconsiders their decision to not use road salt. Salt needs to be applied before the snow starts. Once the snow melts and the ice bonds to the pavement, there’s nothing you can do to de-ice. A day or so is fine, but in large storms like this, we can’t just cripple our transportation system for a week. I understand there are environmental concerns but it’s not like a storm like this is that common.
I am seriously considering getting studded bicycle tires for next year.
studded brompton tires!!!!
Salt is bad for streams and I’m glad we as a community limit its use.
Would you not agree that we should limit use of salt only to major events like the one we had last week?
Also, from the article:
This is exactly what we need to be doing – pre-treating the roads to prevent the bonding of ice to the pavement – yet PBOT appears to not even have done that on all but a few major car-oriented roads.
I think Oregon’s (salmon) ecosystem requires more care than the heartier freshwater fish of the Great Lakes-ish areas called out in the article. Don’t forget that we have in-place treaties with the tribes and mandates under the ESA to not impact salmon habitat. I’ll leave it to an ecologists to determine which streams can handle how much salt. But I prefer to err on the side of caution here.
the transportation system isn’t crippled… unprepared people are just messing it up…
For people without cars, I’d say it’s pretty crippled.
I would say the opposite… drivers are the majority of the people having issues…
besides the already vulnerable people with mobility issues…
it’s the supposedly dangerous driving conditions that are keeping people home…
What percentage of normal bike commuters do you think have consistently been riding through this weather? Seems that the majority of posters on here (most of them some of the heartiest of bike commuters) have hung it up and taken transit. To say that only cars have been impacted is incredibly disingenuous.
Yes. and rock salt takes a while to fully dissolve. Then you get brine, which takes a long time to freeze.
The fish will be fine. Incidental salt use with large volumes of snow and rain to dilute the salt shouldn’t have a major environmental impact.
…I think it’s the fry that are the worrisome part. The little fishies.
You would think, but Vancouver, BC found otherwise:
I rode the WES line and it was fast. About 60 mph underneath SW Allen Blvd.
Definitely mixed bag out there, depending on your commute route. I work out NE132nd and I-84 – going in yesterday morning the east wind was a beast. You had to be wary so you were not caught off-guard by gusts. Road portions were certainly better than, say, I-205 path which had tricky spots.
Definitely had to watch for shiny sections, and for tire trenches. My mantra was slow and steady. Oh, I used my 4″ tired fat bike at 4psi.
I’m surprised that so many tri-met stops are not cleared of ice and snow. I thought that if someone slips and falls, then they could be responsible? I had to help a gentlemen in a wheelchair trying to get on the MAX platform of the Lombard stop. It wasn’t cleared and there was no way he could make it without assistance.
They can barely keep many of the bus lines running, I’m not surprised that bus stops are pretty low on the priority list.
lots of people that could use a temp low wage job clearing platforms…
Paid for with that budget surplus that TRIMET has?
South Beaverton surface streets are still packed ice with some “black ice” sections. Some neighborhood streets are ridable packed snow. Unless you are ok taking the lane on Murray or Hall you’re going to be riding in iced car ruts. Very few dry spots.
Tigard area is much more doable with relatively calm through streets mostly clear and dry with only short sections of icy ruts. Major roads have dry lanes and even clear sections of bike lanes that allow for cars to go by.
Rode yesterday and today on 40mm knobby gravel tires at about 30 psi and only felt my rear spin a few times although had a foot out and was as cautious as you could be short of walking through intersections and tight turns. Just have to let the bike travel as it wants to the edge of tire ruts or down the camber of the road at times.
Overall I do not recommend, my 30 min ride to work is the most mentally draining thing I’ve done in a long time. I plan on staying at work late today in the hopes that the westside doesn’t see as much freezing rain and the evening warms up significantly. I’m taking my chances with the dark, rain and slush rather than doing another ice skate home.
Have you rode on 5th or 6th Street?
I’m delighted by the extreme nature of the riding and the challenge it presents. It makes me crave smooth tarmac and summertime. I biked in yesterday. The roads were pretty calm in the morning but when I came home in the afternoon it was quite clear I was not welcome. Motorists on their high horses pulling half cocked maneuvers who can’t simply enjoy their central heating as I pedal slowly and carefully on my bike are not to be toyed with when there is ice on the roads and storm makes things challenging. Bike paths are blocked by snow plowed into it’s path or fallen trees. I was able to use some of the west bank esplanade. The sick joy warmed my soul as the sound of ice shattered underneath my snobyk. I call her Red Crush. 26 Lbs of steel and studs. If I’m only able to access roads then people better be staying home. The motorists one today, not for want or trying.
Here’s a fun game: according to their website, the city of Portland says they have 55 plows for the city. Plus some we apparently borrowed from Seattle.
How many plows have you seen in the last week? I’ll start: ONE (and I have been out driving every day in the last week).
I drove up to Ecliptic and had a beer a few days ago. I saw 4-5 plows on my way there, and sat and watched the last 2 leave the yard off of Mississippi. They were all out working.
I saw one last Wed. That’s all.
I saw one today driving by with his shovel about 2 foot off the ground. On dry pavement.
I haven’t seen any plows at all, but I live in SE and work in NW so there’s no hills that need to be plowed…
the roads are compacted snow/ice but it’s easy driving for those that are properly prepared…
I saw three plows idling together having their picture taken. Another one parked at 7-11.
Many plows in NE.
I’ve seen two: one on SE 20th at Belmont, one on NE 15th at Fremont. Both were ineffectively scraping a little ice off the top of the concrete-like packed ice in the street, with no discernible effect, many days too late.
I have not seen one. But I like the drivers of SE 26th quashed.
Yeah, I’m wondering about this too. 55 plows and about 550 miles of plow routes. That works out to only 10 miles of street per plow. Even knowing it takes multiple passes with plows to clear a street curb to curb, with 55 plows it should be possible to do the job within a couple of days. All the arterials and collectors out here in Hillsboro got plowed.
Why can’t Portland do it? The same thing happened in 2008, when we got over a foot of snow, the city basically shut down for 3 days and the snow stuck around longer than that, with arterials heavily rutted and barely passable, and you hardly ever saw a snowplow.
Apples/oranges comparison to Minneapolis: I think I read recently that the city of Minneapolis (which is about 2/3 the geographic area and population of Portland) has 85 snowplows. In fairness, many of the bigger streets are maintained by the county (I have not been able to figure out how many plows the county has) and the city just maintains side streets and parkways. But when the city declares a snow emergency, which has happened 4-5 times so far this winter, they plow EVERY STREET in the city (thousands of miles) over a 3-day period. Given that, I don’t see why 55 plows aren’t adequate for the City of Portland to fully clear at least its major streets.
This question needs answering. A lot of people bury their heads in the (snow?) and pretend “this hardly EVER happens in Portland!” so why bother improving the snow response? But it doesn’t hardly ever happen. Major snow events comparable to this one happened in 2008, and in 2004, and in 1998 if I recall correctly. That’s not every year, but it’s often enough to be doing a better job at it. Even on an economic basis alone, the impact on many members of our community – the homeless, hourly workers, small business owners, and families whose kids will now be in school almost until July – seems severe enough to justify a better response.
I am shocked at the number of people who expect the government to shovel their sidewalks for them. If you have mobility issues or a kid in a stroller, you are essentially home bound. For a week!
I saw 4 snow plows coming down ne broadway on Friday. They were lined up askew and slightly behind each other, like they should have been, but the plows were basically bouncing off the surface of the snow. They turned left onto 15th, and the 4th one, who was collecting the snow from the other 3, ended up depositing it all in the middle of the intersection. It wasn’t very much, probably only enough to build a large snowman, but what a joke! You don’t need special training or special equipment to do a basic snow plow. I really don’t get how anyone can find this acceptable.
I wish I had a snow blower because I would have just been walking around the neighborhood clearing sidewalks every evening…
there was a group of shovelers going door to door soliciting work to clear your sidewalk…
I think conditions now merit something more like a blow torch…
What on earth are you talking about? Driving a snowplow requires a lot of training and certification. You can’t learn to drive one by watching a three minute youtube video and be done with it. They aren’t some plow stuck to the front of a pickup by any means.
Do you know how many parking lots, side streets, cul de sacs, etc around this country get plowed with “plows stuck to the front of pick ups”? The point is they were out there “plowing”, but they weren’t doing it right, and as a result we still have 2-3 inches of solid ice on most of our arterials 6 days after its snowed.
The fallacy here: trying to do effective snow removal 60 hours after the storm. On Friday motor vehicles had been driving on NE Broadway for more than two full days. It’s almost a total waste of resources at that point to send out trucks and the drivers probably know it.
Portland doesn’t really do snow, we don’t get it that often as several people have said. However this is the teachable moment to do a snow plan. Have somebody who is watching the forecast (a moving target) talk to somebody who can make the call for overtime or whatever it takes. Identify streets that are choke points for transit and let people know that their cars will be towed if they park there in a snow event. Heck, just ban parking there totally, amen? –and for cat’s sake clear the bridge paths. Those were the worst spots for bike travel in the recent excitement.
The one way plows used on the city and state highway trucks are setup so the hydraulics are only used to raise the plows. They depend on gravity and the shape of the blade to get “below” snow/slush on a road surface. If you have packed ruts, then yes you will not see your typical plow do much. As the blade will bounce along on top of the ice.
Once you get packed ice in ruts, the only way to clear is with a road grader. (Or a cat. I’ve seen both used to remove ice.) Something that has the capability of asserting downward force on the blade. This is not something you send a novice operator out to do, because if he’s not careful with the circle and the mold board he’ll drive the blade through the ice and into the pavement.
Also, Portland and ODOT mark lanes with raised reflectors. (Though if you go up to Mt Hood you’ll see that they are recessed into a scooped out place in the pavement.) So dropping a blade down to the road surface will remove the ice and also any above pavement lane reflectors.
Since a road grader capable of this work isn’t cheap, and is a specialty piece of equipment, you aren’t going to see the City of Portland picking up a few dozen of these on the off chance they’ll be needed for ice removal…
PBOT has a few graders and used them on the west hills.
They were giving a snow job picking up overtime.
I think that Dylan Rivera Public Information Officer at Portland Bureau of Transportation made an enormous mistake when he told the Oregonian that there would be no penalty to anyone who decided not to shovel their sidewalks. It might be true, but why advertise that fact so publicly. Going forward I would like to see the city put some teeth into their snow shoveling ordinance and enforce it. The hardest thing about trying to get around this week has been how dangerous many of the sidewalks are because people did not shovel them. I did mine within the first day and it wasn’t even that hard because they hadn’t frozen up yet.
“no penalty to anyone who decided not to shovel their sidewalks”
wtf?! that’s seriously negligent… same with forgiving cars stranded on Hwy 26…
a little snow and the city starts throwing out the law because they’d be so overwhelmed by people breaking the law?
you’ll never get people out of their cars with this extreme level of mollycoddling…
this makes me so incredibly angry…
I’m really struggling to understand your double standard here. So there should be no expectation for PBOT to clear the roads of snow and ice and drivers should “just be prepared” for it (even 6 days after it actually snowed last). But when it comes to pedestrians we should be fining people and there is no expectation for people to get Yaxtrax, microspikes, or grippy boots?
I mostly don’t go out these days without wearin my Ice Trekkers (carbide spikes that are ecstatically happy to bite into ice). I did a trial walk to Freddy’s without them on, hoping that the rain was making things better because the sidewalks MUST be mostly clear. Many were passable; many crosswalks were not. Spikes were on for the return trip.
he didn’t say no penalty, he said no enforcement… I suppose it’s the same thing since there’s no Citizen Citation process for that…
All sidewalk repairs are complaint-driven, and the city admits that. While they say a complaint process must exist, the one that does is not amenable to fixing short-term hazards. But they’ve gotta be fixed, and the responsible party is clearly identified:
17.28.025 Property Owner Responsible for Snow and Ice on Sidewalks
(Added by Ordinance No. 176585, effective July 5, 2002.)
A. The owner(s) and/or occupant(s) of land adjacent to any street in the City shall be responsible for snow and ice removal from sidewalks abutting or immediately adjacent to such land, notwithstanding any time limitations.
B. Property owner(s) and/or occupant(s) shall be liable for any and all damages to any person who is injured or otherwise suffers damage resulting from failure to remove snow and/or ice accumulations.
Did PBOT really say that to the paper? I want to sue every responsible party for every section of sidewalk I skid and almost fall on. I haven’t been on my bike since last Tuesday, and while I hate that, it’s my choice to rely on TriMet until this is over. Half the width of my sidewalk is clear. Anyone on my street who is too fearful or frail or underequipped with shovels should know a kid who will shovel for them, or approach a neighbor who actually fulfilled their obligation. Borrow a shovel or hire or bribe your neighbor with cookies. Clear your $#@! sidewalks!
Agree, that was a poor choice. Shoveling this snow right after it stopped falling was NOT a terribly onerous task for me at 61 and not in great shape, and living on a corner lot with 150′ of sidewalk. I think peer-pressure and publicity would get a lot more people out their shoveling for themselves and their neighbors who can’t.
I envision a snow-shovel “library” type of arrangement, where shovels – and maybe some shovelers with strength to spare – could be made available to households that don’t own one or aren’t able. I’ve lent my cheapo plastic snow shovel out several times lately. (It’s also great for leaves in the gutter, by the way.)
the snow was super light and fluffy last wednesday morning at 5:30am when I was shoveling the sidewalk before heading to work…
it was the same yesterday in my driveway as I was bored and wanted to be outside so I shoveled some driveway, though not enough to get the car out…
Meat 72 did the snow shovel bit on part of the driveway to the frozen slush mound between the driveway and the street. It was 18 inches deep there and the snow shovel was too big to budge it.
To effectively plow streets or so-called bike infrastructure you have to get what equipment you have out there while the snow is falling and before, repeat before, very much traffic runs over and compacts it, churns it up, and partially melts it. Same thing goes for sidewalks (try this at home).
I’ve been mostly able to travel with 2″ tires, lowered pressure. Conditions are highly variable though–you have watch for the cross rut under your front wheel as well as the patch of greasy gray ice a half block ahead. The worst spots are the MUP sections of bridge crossings, which I would rate as ‘hammered shit’. I saw the Gator w/ plow on the Broadway Bridge (24 hours too late, or 36?) They scraped the loose snow off the top and left the packed foot and wheel tracks. Meh.
Lexicon: If it won’t be maintained, or can’t be maintained, that’s not infrastructure. That’s a ghetto.
What are the odds Portland would ever install a plow tracker like this?
Never, as we hardly ever get snow around here, but that’s pretty cool!
Many of the SW thoroughfares had the trucks with the levelers leaving 1-2 inches of snow in the traffic lane and 18″ high berms of frozen slush in the bikepaths were quit evident. I was finally able to get tire tracks partly opened up to my driveway yesterday. There is a 6 foot gap between the cleared roadway and the mailboxes and ditch on both side of the street where I live. No place for bikes to ride, without being in the middle of the busy roadway, close to Washington Square.
Call it what you want, but this event meets the defintition of aberrant. Should DOTs put more resources into preparing for unusual snow events or getting ready for ‘the big one’? In eirther case it is a certainty that many Portland households were individually unprepared for this minor emergency. Could we reflect on it as a cheap lesson?
“departing from an accepted standard.”
only if the standard is that all roads should be clear of all obstacles at all times…
I don’t live by that standard… I live in a city… I have options…
Even with my studded tires, I took a spill last Saturday. I (partly) blame a heavy pannier on one side of my bike. Fortunately, I was going slow so that I was more amused than anything else. Still, be careful out there! Ride slowly, turn slowly (while keeping as vertical as possible), and brake smoothly and early.
it’s not all dry with clear pavement in our dream city…
but at least they have bike path plows…
In Copenhagen, they clear the bike paths first. In Portland they don’t clear any bike paths. There’s also a big difference between riding in snow (relatively easy to do if you have wide tires) and riding on ice (impossible without studs, and even then not great).
Adam, Portland does not clear bike paths, They cover them with slush.
The zigo trike was perfectly stable as always and a bit of fun skidding around, but plenty of grip with the back tire if you put weight on it. The deep slush was a real literal drag and impassible on the uphill with the 2 20in wheels in front. Rode it as a bike today and it was definitely a foot-down ordeal in many places but easier to walk through the slush to a solid patch. Front skis and a rear motor would do the trick.
As usual, the worst part is the overconfident fools in overgrown pickup trucks.
4:31pm report, near Clinton & SE 26th–road looks ‘about 80% clear’ (according to my husband) and eaves and icicles are dripping…
Drivers seem to be resuming their officious, reckless, speedy ways.
That’s SE 26th I’m referring to–not Clinton.
I took the bus (8, 70) and MAX (Orange) to and from the shop every day since last Thursday.
Sometimes, the schedules were a little messed up, but I gotta say: The drivers just kept at it.
One guy told me that they were all working through their breaks, just trying to keep some semblance of order and service going.
I do not recommend walking anywhere at the moment. The snow is starting to melt and all those unshoveled sidewalks are turning into a slippery, slushy mess. Flooding is starting — the gutters are starting to form massive boot-swallowing puddles. This is honestly the worst it’s been since Thursday. The streets look okay if you can manage to stay on the bare pavement in-between the icy ruts. It’s probably better to ride at the moment, though I don’t exactly recommend that either.
Someone had the foresight to kick a channel through the snow and ice to a storm drain on Hawthorne. It was draining nicely. I hope others have done the same.
Yes, I helped clear the grates on my block. We should all be doing this — in fall too when the drains clog with dead leaves.
Rubber boots and shoes chains. I think owning both of these will improve the life of any Portlander who can afford them. Xtratuf boots are the only brand I know that last a long time of wear.
Danner insulated and Goretex lined hunting boots. Completely water proof, can be resoled indefinitely, made in Oregon. Mine are 30 years old and may outlive me. Expensive, but good things often are.
Any estimate on how passable downtown roads will be for the morning commute? Not sure if it will get warm enough tonight to clear it. And the Hawthorne bridge ramp?
Judging by how bad the sidewalks are tonight, I would not hold my breath for the Hawthorne path to be passable tomorrow morning.
Several years ago, I bought some $12 shoe chains at Sanderson (now Mallory) Safety Supply when I was in there for something else. Don’t need them very often, but when it’s an icy mess out, they’re a godsend. They have made this last week soooo much easier. You basically don’t have to worry while you walk, you just go. Made in Portland, too!
Made the foolish decision to ride in today, bypassing Barbur Blvd and dropping down to John’s Landing via Corbett. I had hoped at least when I reached some of the paths they’d be moderately clear of slush and ice. This was not even the case on the westside bikepaths in the center city including the Moody bikeway.
By midafternoon yesterday in Beaverton/Hillsboro, the rain had improved things considerably. Even though there was still ice on the paths, it was a lot less slick with the (NON-freezing!) rain coming down and softening the surface. And now things are in much better shape out here, with almost all the snow on the grass melted overnight, along with most of the snow and ice on the paths.
Yesterday the warm rain on the westside (at 4pm Wunderground’s map was showing around 50 degrees for most of the Beaverton-Hillsboro area, versus around 40 for most of central Portland) melted off pretty much everything that hadn’t been piled up by plowing and shoveling.
In contrast, things still appeared dicey for cycling in much of Central Portland. I made a couple of BikeTown trips, and while downtown streets were in good shape (just a few patches of ice left here and there on the streets), there was still a lot of residual ice on sidewalks and other surfaces that hadn’t been mechanically cleared. The Hawthorne Bridge path was also decent, except for the “exit ramp” from the path down onto SW Main, which was blocked by plow debris — seriously?! A week later?! Didn’t look like more than a couple of cyclists other than me had attempted it either. But the Esplanade was still tough going without studded tires, and so appeared the path on the Tillikum.
At least it’s finally well into the 40s east of the West Hills. Here’s hoping for more rain than the forecast currently predicts, so things end up more rideable by evening.
Finally rode today after a week off the bike. All of our bike infrastructure still has lots of icy bumps that will knock you off your bike if you ride over them. Esplanade was awful this morning, as was any area around a diverter. Hawthorne Bridge path was perfect, though the bike lane leading into downtown was an icy mess.
I rode from Sellwood to NW and the Springwater section from the trestle access path to OMSI was totally passable and safe. The path down from Milwaukie to the Springwater however has two large trees completely blocking the path. You can pretty easily portage around them, though, assuming you have shoes that allow for normal walking. The path there still has 1-2″ of slush covering it, but not much ice.
Agree the Easplanade was less well off, particularly the floating section–that was full on treacherous with pools of water on top of ice. I walked that.
Otherwise, the streets I rode in NW were fine, though as expected many neighborhood streets, particularly in SE, are still pretty dicey.
Winters are a challenge in Portland or Spokane, and an opportunity too to continue the ride. This article high lights a female cyclist in Spokane, WA. http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/jan/19/dedicated-cyclist-gears-up-to-coast-through-winter/
Hooray! I got to commute on a road bike today!! Also, if you were the bloke who stuck a camera in my face a week ago around 6:30pm on the East Bank Esplanade, please contact me, I’d like a copy of the photo. I was the goon cycling in hi-vis on a big red mtb with studded tyres.
I can report that the SW Canyon Court bike lanes, the connection between Sylvan interchange and the zoo roud (Knights Blvd), and used by a large percentage of west side commuters, are still impassable on a bike. I’ve put in a call to PBOT to have these lanes cleared.
Related: If you take US26 inbound from Knights to Goose Hollow, be advised that the shoulder is still in very bad shape. Be as bright as you can and be prepared to take the lane.
I crossed the Westies on Beaverton-Hillsdale on my ride from Hillsboro to Portland last night, and can report that it is *mostly* OK. There are a few spots east of 35th Avenue where the bike lane is still blocked by snow and it’s necessary to move over into the general lane. Wasn’t a big deal on my ride but could be a problem at times of heavy traffic. Sounds a lot better than the 26 crossing, though.
Also was glad to see that the inner eastside and the Tillikum went from nearly unrideable to almost completely clear by last night.