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Weather conditions update: Icy patches abound, freezes temps continue, more snow on the way

Posted by on February 6th, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Westbound bikeway on North Rosa Parks Way just before I-5.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

How’s the weather treating you? Are you still riding?

The snowmaggedon news coverage, business and school closures, and myriad warnings from local agencies have kept some people from driving. That’s created lower than usual auto traffic — a good thing for people on bikes. But, the conditions pose challenges for bike riders too. With several inches of new snow in the forecast, I thought it was a good time to check in about the weather.

We didn’t get too much snow yesterday, but the below-freezing temps have created a bunch of icy patches throughout the bike network. Most of the former puddles and wet spots I’ve seen around my neighborhood and now sheets of slippery ice.

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An innocent looking gutter strip is actually a major slip hazard.

If you see anything shiny and/or black while riding, avoid it if you can. If you want inspiration and tips to keep biking through the cold, snow, and ice, look no further than the BikePortland Riding in the Snow archives that include a trove of insights via reader comments.

Biking can be one of the best ways to stay mobile in winter, but it takes some practice and patience to be able to do it comfortably and safely. Share your concerns with us in the comments and you’ll likely find you’re not the only one having them.

Good luck out there and let us know how we can help.

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

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

46 Comments
  • Bstedman February 6, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Anybody tried Terwilliger today? I didn’t dare to ride today, but would be curious if it’s fine for tomorrow.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Eric Leifsdad February 7, 2019 at 12:51 am

      What little I saw looks like they may have sprayed de-icer everywhere except in the bike lanes.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • soren February 8, 2019 at 8:42 am

        I bike up Terwilliger every day and have not noticed any ice patches in the bike lanes. OHSU even added extra deicer at the turns on the bike lanes they maintain so it’s clear that someone is thinking about people cycling there.

        I believe it’s OHSU, not PBOT, that sprays the deicer on Terwilliger and Sam Jackson. (They also inspect and close Sam Jackson to bikes when it gets too icy.)

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • maxD February 6, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    does PBOT post any info about bike routes that are maintained for winter conditions? I rode from NOPO to downtown for an 8 am doctor appt then to the CEID for work. Both the Larabee viaduct and Hawthorne viaduct had been de-iced, but ONLY in the motor vehicle lane, the bike lanes were a total mess. PBOT sent a link to this map showing which routes they maintain:
    http://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=935da87d18d148d784d164adcb7218df&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
    However, there is no mention that I could find that the routes are only for motor vehicles and not for bike lanes.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Kelly February 6, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      PBOT has no plan. They don’t treat any bike infrastructure at all. It’s often better to take the major streets instead of the greenways after snow as PBOT does apply deicer to streets like Hawthorne.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • BrianC February 6, 2019 at 3:27 pm

        Make sure you clean your bike if you ride anywhere you might pick up deicer. I ruined a good set of aluminum rims once by not doing this.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

        • Bobcycle February 7, 2019 at 8:13 am

          Thank you for the reminder. After reading I went back out in the cold and gave my bike a quick wash and brought it inside to dry.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

      • TheCowabungaDude February 6, 2019 at 3:48 pm

        Broadway Bridge had some kind of treatment this morning…

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • soren February 6, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      The Hawthorne viaduct is managed by Multnomah County, not PBOT. There were a small few patches of ice this am but, as usual, county employees had spread a substantial amount of salt so much of this was mushy. Thank you bridge services people!

      https://multco.us/bridges/contact-us

      Multnomah County has done a far, far better job of managing bike facilities than PBOT. This is not saying much, of course.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Bald One February 6, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    If you like to smile when you ride, keep your lips closed tight over your teeth and wear glasses or eye protection. We will be getting small rocks flying up in our face for the rest of the year from all the gravel that PBOT laid down on Monday.

    The snow is gone in hours, but the gravel will be in the bike lanes for months or longer.

    Recommended Thumb up 14

    • Kelly February 6, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      I kid you not, there was literally gravel in the bike lane in front of my house for six months after the last major snow event. Six. Freaking. Months.

      Recommended Thumb up 11

      • Jd February 7, 2019 at 5:57 am

        Good thing we all have “gravel bikes” now. Am I right?!

        Recommended Thumb up 6

      • dirk February 7, 2019 at 10:25 am

        Why didn’t you sweep it up?

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        • CaptainKarma February 7, 2019 at 12:05 pm

          Personally, I would, but I wouldn’t expect anyone else to, and my 80 feet would be the only cleared space. Also, gravel is very heavy, and where do I put it?

          Recommended Thumb up 1

    • soren February 8, 2019 at 8:49 am

      My main issue with the gravel is that it’s recycled and has an increasing amount of glass. This may save money and be better for the environment but it’s a real barrier to winter cycling. If you start getting flats after gravel application, please urge pbot to use new gravel on major bikeways and restrict the use of recycled gravel to roads that do not have major bikeways.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Bald One February 6, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    I hit black ice a few years ago, no fun – went down hard and kept sliding in traffic.

    If it’s white and frosty, like many bike lanes in the morning at near freezing temps on dry days, you’ll probably stick (if your tires are leaving a trail in the frost).

    Remaining snow from Monday that’s hiding in the shadows and has still not melted – could be any condition – the colder and drier it is, the crustier it will be.

    Bridges and elevated paths – proceed with lots of caution.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • X February 9, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      The intersection of Flint and Russell (actually the whole track of the R-L-R from Vancouver to Flint) is an infamous frost pocket. I’ve seen crashes there on black ice/frost when there few other hazards to be found. A few weeks ago a bike rider crashed badly there (requiring emergency response) when water leaking from a valve box in the street froze in a track of ice at a time when the air temperature was above 32 F. I felt pretty bad about that one because I had seen the water leak the day before and not called it in to Water Bureau maintenence, something I often do.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Josh February 6, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    For light snow, I like taking a Biketown bike when I can —the seat can be lowered easily, they have fat tires, and I don’t have to get slush and crud on *my* bike. And if it turned out that I misjudged conditions and they’re worse than expected, I can just lock it up and get on transit.

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • John Lascurettes February 6, 2019 at 2:55 pm

      All really good points.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • soren February 6, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      A great option if you can, somehow, find a working bike and/or can get their glitchy payment system to work. (I was a monthly dues paying member for years.)

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Bald One February 6, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    all those driveway intersections and undrained gutter locations in pained bike lanes that are frozen puddles (as shown in those photos above) – call PBOT and complain, tell them to fix the drainage in the bike lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • GlowBoy February 7, 2019 at 2:33 pm

      Yikes, if true.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • GlowBoy February 8, 2019 at 8:11 am

        I’m sure tonight’s event will be plenty troublesome, with somewhere between 2 and 8 inches of snow, but at least it’s a weekend.

        Sunday-Monday is shaping to be much bigger as the work week begins. Cliff Mass’ blog page is Seattle-centric and Mark Nelsen’s weather blog hasn’t gone into it in depth (though I suspect he may have some big updates today).

        Current projection from the official NWS weather page doesn’t look that bad, but looking at their V3 forecast (not official yet, but uses more updated models), here’s what they’re saying right now:
        – Sunday: 1-2 inches possible.
        – Sunday night: 3-5 inches.
        – Monday: 3-5 inches.
        – Monday night: 2-4 inches.

        Add those numbers up, and there’s the potential for Portland to have more snow on the ground by Tuesday morning than the 8″ we currently have in Minneapolis. Updating my packing list …

        https://forecast-v3.weather.gov/point/45.5,-122.6

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • GlowBoy February 10, 2019 at 8:21 am

          Looks like Mark Nelsen was right all along. Southerly wind pushed back the snow behind the West Hills boundary, and looks to push it all the way to the Columbia River for tonight’s/tomorrow’s big event (which is looking HUGE for Seattle, BTW, even if Portland gets little to no snow).

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Lascurettes February 6, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Worked from home yesterday (but was feeling sick anyway so that was part of it). Today I took a bus but it gave me a chance to see that most of my route is all nice and dry pavement. I’ll likely ride tomorrow and Friday. It’s going to be an icy mess after this weekend though (starting Sunday morning).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • JP February 6, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    I attempted to ride in yesterday, but got as far as Jet Black coffee on NE Halsey and 111th, and decided to have a coffee and turn back. The ride itself was fine (I have studded tires), but I didn’t want to face rush hour traffic on that ice (particularly since NE Halsey and Weidler between 102 and 122 are such a huge mess right now – does anyone know when that is supposed to be done, BTW?).
    I rode in today on my regular commuter (26″ rigid MTB), and was fine (if very cold).

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • BrianC February 6, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    I have opted to walk and use tri-met this week. This option works for me and adds an hour to my commute, but on the other hand I can get my 10,000 steps in!

    I try not to ride if it is close to freezing* or it if looks like it might freeze during the time I have to commute. I have studded tires on my cross bike and it’s fun to cruise around on, but you still have to deal with traffic…

    [*] I’m super careful now. Had a friend dump his bike at a very slow speed on wet leaves. In the crash the top of his femur was pushed up through his pelvis shattering it. He’s still walking with a cane years later… ::sadface:: Tempting fate by riding on ice is a young person’s game…

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Todd Boulanger February 6, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    The snow storm stopped short of reaching me…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BikeRound February 6, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Here in my neck of the woods in central Jersey, last Friday it was 18 degrees Fahrenheit for my 11-mile commute home. Sitting in a warm office building I was getting worried: Am I going to be cold? Did I bring the right clothes? As always, though, once you are actually outside, the ride is a great stress reliever, and riding through the snowy landscapes, you feel grateful for the opportunity to commute by bike. My REI down jacket is amazingly good at keeping my upper body warm; combine that with triple layers on the bottom and two hats, and I am good to go.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Pete February 6, 2019 at 6:55 pm

      Oof – kudos to you! I spent last week in Schenectady and walking short distances outdoors was painful. Been Californicated… there was snow on our hills that made big news but I just had to wear arm warmers and full-fingered gloves… spoiled. Stay warm and safe!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • David Hampsten February 7, 2019 at 1:09 am

      Here in NC we had a cold January with most days in the 20s & 30s but dry. Last few days have been hitting 70s, but we have no doubt we have more of winter coming our way … eventually…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Todd Boulanger February 6, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    A question: now that PDoT has chosen to use these wands / candlestick delineators…what is their maintenance protocol for clearing the snow (and then gravel) one a storm hits. I doubt they will be relying on men with green brooms like Paris uses (used) …or do the PBoT trucks just roll over the delineators?

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Kate February 7, 2019 at 9:52 am

      Oddly, while biking over I-84 on the 28th street bridge this morning pre-dawn, the bike lane was totally dry and fine but the auto lanes has a film of frosty ice. I have no idea why- perhaps just the bike lanes were treated? Seems unlikely but i had been prepared to take the lane, then found the separated bike lane to have less sketchy surface. Weird!

      Also if we start getting lots of snow, I highly recommend taking your mtn bike out while the snow is sticky and streets are quiet. Soooooo fun!!!

      Recommended Thumb up 2

    • X February 9, 2019 at 12:38 pm

      Good point. We’ll have these problems (puddles of ice and patches of gravel in ‘bike’ lanes, wands and other features that make bike infrastructure impossible to maintain, as long as bike routes are an afterthought pasted onto existing streets. Bandaids don’t wear well.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Welsh Pete February 6, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Most danger I encountered over the last couple of days wasn’t snow or ice or the cold it was another cyclist blowing a stop sign when it was my right of way. I have no problem with people safely rolling through stop signs but at least look out for cross traffic before you do. Ladd’s Circle around 130pm (Weds), totally looking in one direction only. Yeah, you. Fuck you. Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Ride on.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Chris I February 7, 2019 at 7:39 am

      Maybe he was looking for the sting?

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Mike Quigley February 7, 2019 at 6:15 am

    How come no mention of Worst Day of the Year Ride cancelled because of weather? Everyone else is having a good laugh out of that one.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Middle of The Road Guy February 7, 2019 at 8:05 am

      It was rescheduled, not cancelled.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 7, 2019 at 9:01 am

      Yes I see that all the other local media is dunking on that. I might post about it. I did post something on Twitter. It’s happened before so it’s not exactly unprecedented. Nor is it that big of a deal/surprising to me. I mean, this is a major event with real-life legal liability issues. It’s not some rag-tag, unsanctioned thing. Obviously if there’s snow and ice everywhere and it’s so cold that no one is happy — it makes more sense to reschedule.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Bobcycle February 7, 2019 at 8:29 am

    I don’t commute for work, but can only go a few days without cycling or I get grumpy. I considered indoor trainer but it’s just not the same. So I modify and shorten my regular route and stay flexible. Leif Erickson is good but bundle up. Easy to stay warm going up the challenge is coming back down without freezing. Also nothing quite like an evening Mt bike ride in the neighborhood on fresh snow to lift the spirits. But be safe, if its icy maybe it’s best to stay inside, watch cycling movies or plan the next adventure ride.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Jon February 7, 2019 at 9:20 am

    My bike commute from SW Portland to nearly Newberg on HW99 west was very good this morning. There was only one patch of ice from a weeping crack in the pavement in the bike lane near PCC Sylvania. Besides that there was no ice in the bike lanes or shoulders. It was around 23 degrees F near Sherwood but so dry that keeping warm was not an issue.

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  • John Lascurettes February 7, 2019 at 10:34 am

    This morning’s ride through inner NE to downtown and then over to the CEID was quite nice. Expect to ride tomorrow too, but probably a big no on Monday because Sunday looks gross.

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  • GlowBoy February 7, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    I’ll be in Portland all next week. Will bring a studded tire or two to put on the bike I keep there. One on the front is usually enough for Portland ice and snow conditions, though if it looks really dicey I might have to bring them for both ends of the bike.

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  • nellie February 9, 2019 at 9:23 am

    there should be a *sticky* post at the top of your page just for people to post their daily cycling experiences/ winter tips during these snowmageddon events! hearing people’s hyperlocal data is so helpful since weather forecasts never aim their forecasts towards us cyclists, always only at motorists and how a heavy tonnage vehicle on 4 wheels will handle conditions.

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