Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 8th, 2019 at 2:04 pm
Snow is already falling in Seattle and it’s headed our way. The National Weather Service says we could get up to four inches by Saturday. And there’s more snow, ice and cold temps in the forecast all next week.
As we brace for the challenges and opportunities a winter storm brings, I thought it’d be helpful to share tips and open up a comment thread so we can share road conditions.
If you’ve read BikePortland for a while, you know we’ve been through this before. In fact our coverage of riding in the snow goes all the way back to the storm of 2005 when our headline proudly proclaimed, “Snow doesn’t deter local cyclists.” It seems like each year the local media and various agencies forget about cycling when the snow starts to fall. And each year we have remind them that — not only is cycling in the snow a legitimate transportation option, it’s often safer than driving, and it can be a ton of fun!
As we brace for yet another go-round with frozen sunshine, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Ice is not nice — unless you’ve got studded tires
As we mentioned earlier this week, ice is not your friend. If you see anything shiny or black, avoid it. That is, unless you are lucky enough to have studded tires. If you’re curious, our friends at Western Bikeworks have a great selection (I’ve ordered a set of these). And unlike studded tires on cars (which aren’t usually even needed, cause millions in damage each year, and are still not taxed or prohibited) you and your bike don’t weigh nearly enough to damage the roads. On that note, the Canadian city of Banff has subsidizes the purchase of studded bicycle tires!
Keep the PBOT Winter Weather Center Map open in your browser
If you want to keep track of which routes will be de-iced and plowed, look no further than PBOT’s slick, interactive winter weather road map. While the agency still hasn’t committed to plowing key bike routes and neighborhood greenways, knowing which roads will be cleared at least gives you something to work with. For more official links and info, see PBOT’s latest statement about the approaching storm.
Tips for a fun and safe ride
We’ve shared tips for winter riding in the past (remember to read the comments!), but here’s a refresher: Lower your tire pressure for better traction; lower your saddle so you can use your legs as outriggers for balance and stability; use as wide of tires as possible; take the lane if you can, because riding in the shoulder will encourage people to pass you unsafely and put you in the path of snowdrifts and other debris.
Grab a Biketown!
It just so happens that Biketown bikes are great in the snow. I tested one out during the 2017 Snowmageddon and it passed with flying colors.
Don’t assume you can’t ride
Every year when the snow hits the ground our inbox and timelines fill up with excited posts from readers who enjoy winter riding. So many people leave their cars at home when it snows that cycling can be even safer during storms. And if you have the right set-up, sloshing through the neighborhood on your bike can be one of the highlights of the year.
For more inspiration, check out the photos below and peruse our past coverage in the archives. Have fun out there and make sure to chime in to share road conditions and neighborhood intel as the storm rolls in.
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