The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Is it icy where you are? Open thread for road conditions

Posted by on December 27th, 2017 at 10:39 am

An icy commute-7.jpg

The approach to the Broadway Bridge from N Interstate. Brr.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Hi everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season.

Once again, the start of winter came with a flurry in Portland. While some people rejoiced at the festive mood made possible by a Christmas Eve snowfall, others probably saw it as just a hassle that made getting around town nearly impossible.

After last year’s drubbing from multiple snow and ice storms, the City of Portland vowed to be better prepared. They came out with a new Snow and Ice Plan and promised to be more attentive to street conditions. We’ve also noticed that the Office of Neighborhood Involvement wants to hear your stories, “on how lingering snow and ice impact the accessibility, livability, and safety of Winter Portland.”

We haven’t gotten too many reports of bad bikeway conditions thus far, but my assumption is that the off-street paths and neighborhood bikeways are hit-or-miss. BP reader @msfour shared this image of the Broadway Bridge yesterday on Twitter…

And @ClareB_pdx caught a Multnomah County crew member plowing the Hawthorne Bridge path on Tuesday…

Thankfully it looks like warmer temps are on the way and we should be riding like normal again soon. But it’s only a matter of time before the next cold spell comes.

Have you been riding in the past week? If so, what conditions did you encounter?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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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

  • Evan December 27, 2017 at 10:44 am

    It looks fine near NE Alberta & MLK, but I nearly ate it on black ice while walking to the bus stop. Take it easy if you’re riding or driving today.

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    • Chris I December 28, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Shoe chains are a good investment. I’ve been using them while walking around since Sunday.

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  • David December 27, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I’m waiting to ride again until the melt is more complete; the city is negligent when it comes to keeping bike lanes passable. Beaverton-Hillsdale is completely covered in ice where they didn’t use deicer (i.e. where the newly installed MUP/bike lanes are) and there are a couple cars parked in the bike lane for good measure, Capitol Hwy from Hillsdale to Barbur is similarly horrible though at least in that case the auto lanes are also a bit dicey. Barbur looked to be semi-bad with the outside half of the bike lanes relatively clear and the rest covered in a nice thick sheet of plowed ice.

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    • rick December 27, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Where were the cars parked on BH Highway ? I’ve told the vehicle owners about the bike lane laws by SW 45th near BH.

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      • David December 27, 2017 at 11:17 am

        Beaverton-Hillsdale and 33rd/Hillsdale Terrace (just past the bus stop going eastbound). I keep forgetting to send the report in to PBOT, though past experience has taught me they don’t exactly care about these kinds of impediments.

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    • Nick December 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      I turned from 39th onto Beaverton-Hillsdale and promptly slid out despite my neighborhood streets being mostly dry. Turned around and got my studded tire bike instead.
      BHH bike lanes and Vermont St bike lanes were all chunky ice this morning. Luckily I could ride the auto lanes, which were all significantly drier, and not have much traffic breathing down my neck.

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      • rick December 28, 2017 at 12:41 pm

        Does BH have fallen tree limbs ?

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    • Kyle Banerjee December 28, 2017 at 8:34 am

      Deicer is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it helps a lot. On the other, it looks like moisture on the pavement which can hide hazardous conditions.

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  • glennfee December 27, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Avoided coming down Greeley this morning, and took Vancouver. Relatively smooth ride, but bridges (Vancouver over I-5 and especially MLK over 84) were decidedly slick. The new bike bridge across 84 can’t come soon enough…..

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    • Clicky Freewheel December 27, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Bridges always freeze before solid pavement. Without any maintenance, the new Lloyd bridge will succumb to the same fate – actually worse because there will be no cars to melt the ice. It appears that PBOT/PP&R/MultCo/etc. do not know this basic fact of physics, because all parts of my ride that were open below (Hawthorne Bridge, its approach ramps, as well as the small portion of the Esplanade behind OMSI) were frozen over and did not receive the extra de-icing treatment that they required.

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  • Buzz December 27, 2017 at 11:15 am

    N. Interstate bike lanes between Broadway and Tillamook were impassable in places yesterday due to ice accumulation; and, while the adjacent MV lanes had been deiced by the city, the bike lanes had not. I took the lane and got honked at by irate motorists. I wouldn’t have ridden at all yesterday if I didn’t have a bike equipped with studded tires.

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    • bikeninja December 27, 2017 at 2:14 pm

      Some days I think Gas Rationing can’t come soon enough.

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  • soren December 27, 2017 at 11:20 am

    While I was riding to work Mon and Tues people in cars told me to use the ice encrusted cycle track. I was not wearing mittens so I was able to demonstrate my displeasure immediately.

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    • Clicky Freewheel December 27, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      Funny, I took the lane on Division the entire way in and no one yelled at me…

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      • soren December 27, 2017 at 3:40 pm

        This was on SW Broadway. I was positioned in the middle of the right lane but there was an empty lane to my left.

        I had no problem riding in the lane arterials in the inner SE where most drivers are residents but this was on a road that leads to an I5 highway exit (a significant percentage of drivers do not live in Portland).

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        • Clicky Freewheel December 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm

          SW Broadway never crosses I-5; I’m going to assume you either meant NE Broadway and I-5 or SW Broadway and I-405. At any rate, both of those areas are a bit dodgy – any time you’re crossing a highway on/off ramp it’s going to be a bad time. Would be nice if PBOT fixed those pinch-points.

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          • soren December 27, 2017 at 5:39 pm

            SW Broadway which crosses the terminus of 405 — also my daily commute for 18 years :).

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          • El Biciclero December 28, 2017 at 1:18 pm

            A ramp that leads to I-5 from SW Broadway.

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    • I wear many hats December 27, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      A man yelled at me from his oncoming Subaru Outback (going 5 mph to my 12 mph) telling me to get off the road in SW last night. BTW, he was straddling the snow covered yellow line. I thought about turning around to inquire more about his opinion but thought better of it. More freezing rain last night kept me on foot today. Its time to spring for some zipties for the next storm.

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  • ricochet December 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Ladd Circle is clear, and a great place to do laps.

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  • Clicky Freewheel December 27, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Riding yesterday was lovely. Clinton was fairly icy, so I took Division all the way in (which had been de-iced by PBOT). Very few cars on the road, and the ones that were there passed safely. The Hawthorne Bridge was treacherous, though. The county had salted but had not broken up any of the ice, so it was quite slippery. I took the Tilikum bridge on the way home and the paths leading to it had been mostly cleared, as well as the bike lane on the bridge proper. Clinton Street was much better in the afternoon, though some icy spots east of Chavez. Most other side streets are a solid sheet, even as of this morning. Should be all cleared up by this afternoon though, as we’ll be getting temps in the low 40’s.

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  • Russell December 27, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Does anyone know if the Springwater is passable?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 28, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Yes. It’s fine. I just got home from riding the Esplanade/Springwater to Sellwood Bridge. Only tricky spot was the floating ramps of the Esplanade.

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      • Russell December 28, 2017 at 8:46 am

        Thanks Jonathan! That’ll get me back off these crazy streets of ours. Looking forward to getting back to nature.

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  • Russell December 27, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    What I found to be unacceptable this morning (12/27), was the bike path on the ramp leading to the Hawthorne Bridge coming from Grand at SE Madison. I’ve never felt so unsafe. The snow/ice path gradually led me into the traffic lanes, where cars are accelerating to get up the hill. I had to stop until the light turned so that I could take the lane without any cars coming. The slickness of the road made it incredibly difficult to enter the lane without taking proper precautions. I’m hoping that was taken care of today.
    Additionally, coming off the Hawthorne bridge, where it comes off of the MUP and onto the street again, was a pile of slush, making that maneuver difficult.
    I swore at PBOT for these things as I arrived at my office… alive.

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    • Clicky Freewheel December 27, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      Yeah, that path was really nasty. I had to take the straight route to 1st Ave instead and take the lane. I usually avoid that block because it’s always such a mess, but it was relatively easy without all the morning traffic. 🙂

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    • soren December 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      FWIW, these areas are managed by Multnomah County, not PBOT.

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      • Russell December 28, 2017 at 8:47 am

        I will redirect my profanity that way then, thank you.
        BTW, all is back to normal this morning. Get back out there commuters.

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  • Reed December 27, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Took the yellow line yesterday and today – too wary of unexpectedly hitting a little patch of ice and eating it.

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  • gtrain December 27, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    The Hwy 26th path in Beaverton was almost completely icy yesterday and Washington Park was icy as well. The Zoo Lights was canceled but there were still people driving and sliding (without chains) up to the zoo.

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  • Josh G December 27, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    I took 205 path from Prescott to Gateway… regretted it but didn’t fall. When does it get any attention at all? Of course the footbridges were the worst, and anywhere near the shade of evergreens. Good to see Gateway Green was all unlocked, might have had better luck there.

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  • oldblood December 27, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    WashCo- Murray between Millikan and Baseline over the Max line is iced and you need to take a lane for bit. Hall, about 1/4 mi South of Denney is pretty sloppy but not icy.

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  • Scott Batchelar December 27, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Lloyd District and Central Eastside (11th & 12th) had some icy sections but was rideable.

    Tried to get into downtown via the Lower Deck of Steel Bridge/Eastside Esplanade/MLK.

    *Bridge across train track treacherous
    *Steel Bridge Closed
    *Eastside Esplanade looked treacherous
    *MLK Bridge by Convention Center really icy

    As long as your on main streets its doable but once off not good

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  • q December 27, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    When it’s cold, I try to keep to routes with sharp turns. They’re usually about ninety degrees.

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    • Alan Love December 28, 2017 at 9:38 am

      That’s a hot corner! ICWYDT

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  • Christopher of Portland December 28, 2017 at 6:10 am

    The floating portion of the Esplanade is still pretty rough. I made it through but I wouldn’t recommend it. The little bridge near Rose Quarter also has some leftover ice. There’s a patch by OMSI that surprised me. This was all around 5:45 am, December 28.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 28, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Just rode loop from NoPo to Sellwood, then to SW via Terwilliger and West Hills.

    Esplanade floating ramps are dicey. Not a ton of ice, but hard snow that could cause trouble if you’re not careful.

    Other issues I encountered:
    – While main roads are “fine”, the bike lanes on them are often not. SW Terwilliger over I-5 for instance is full of snow in bike lane, which puts you into the other lane.

    – Roads that have been de-iced are good. SW Fairmount is good. But smaller roads we often use – like SW Hewett – are no go. Lots of snow/ice still.

    Good thing is all the snow should be melted by end of today.

    Be careful out there!

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    • rick December 28, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      The 900 and 800 foot spots of the SW Hills had a lot more snow than 400 and 300 foot spots like SW Hamilton.

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  • Todd Boulanger December 28, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    …The streets are clear now…

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    • Phil Richman December 28, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      This first winter storm brought the first layer of sand to ODOT and some PBOT roads. So while the snow is thawed I still dread the dirtiness of the roadways until the last freeze is gone at which time they will be swept about a month after. The dirt road in front of my house turns into an uneven ice rink during these times. On Wednesday I walked and took the bus (instead of riding Barbur) and used Biketown run errands. Biketown bikes feel amazingly stable even on the uneven icy bike lanes. Another reason for Biketowning in the winter conditions is keeping the gunk off my own bike’s chain and gears saving me hundreds in annual maintenance/replacement costs.

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      • soren December 31, 2017 at 11:05 am

        And because the sand is recycled it contains increasing amounts of glass.

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  • Patrick December 28, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    205 path S from Division to Springwater > Sellwood: overpasses @ Powell, Foster an icy slush mess, less so on Springwater bridges.

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  • Toadslick December 28, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    The lack of enforcement in outer SE Portland was fully on display over the Christmas weekend. In the mile walk from the Max to my destination, I encountered multiple drivers intentionally swerving through intersections and trucks doing donuts in a park playground.

    I was glad to not be on a bicycle trying to contend with the criminally unsafe drivers in addition to the sidewalk-less roads.

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    • Todd Boulanger December 29, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Toadslick…did you have any luck calling 911 for those truck operators ripping up the turf in the playgrounds while doing donuts? (Or were they doing the donuts on the pavement at the park parking lots?)

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  • mh December 31, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Rode in Tuesday and Wednesday on the mountain bike with studded snows, SE Salmon to 16th to Lloyd Blvd. Went in a bit late to try to avoid some traffic, and took the lane on Lloyd because the bike lane was not attractive. Easy trips. Going home on Tuesday taught me a few things: studded snows are great on smooth ice, and if I’m gonna try to ride on ice ridges, I’d better stop riding like I’m on a paved road and learn to mountain bike. Thursday and Friday I was happily back on the road bike.

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