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If snow comes, let’s keep our cool and keep riding

Posted by on February 11th, 2021 at 11:03 am

(You won’t be the only one out there. Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland))

If you live in Portland, the news is unavoidable: Snow is coming. Maybe close to one foot if some predictions hold.

BikePortland wants to remind everyone that bicycling is not mutually exclusive with the presence of snow. In fact, it can be really fun. Often when a severe weather happens there’s a tone and vibe from road agencies and the media that it’s too dangerous to ride bikes, or that all the focus and advice for road users should only be put on people inside cars and buses.

Newsflash: It’s perfectly normal and reasonable for people to continue to ride through a snowstorm! As drivers, we should expect bike riders to be on the road and use our cars accordingly. As riders, we should be extremely cautious (any threat or presence of ice is a 100% no-go situation unless you have spiked tires), but also embrace the opportunity to use calmer streets and commune with nature in a way that’s relatively rare for Portland.


My advice is to browse our 55 Riding in the Snow stories for loads of excellent tips and insights from the BikePortland reader brain trust (also known as the comment section) going all the way back to 2007.

Some of my favorites:

The ‘commute from hell’ was heaven on a bike (2016)
How to keep little bike passengers cozy in the cold (2018).
Biketown bike share vs. Snowmageddon (2017)

Whatever happens out there, bundle up and enjoy the ride.

— 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 welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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A severe weather alert in one city would be considered an unusually nice day in another.
Oulu Finland, where the snow season lasts over 6 months, has 27% year round cycling mode fraction. This is attributed to Oulu making a solid cycling plan and actually executing to the plan. It was a civil servant driven process and they did not require advocacy groups to continuously fight for every small incremental improvement. Its not about the weather, but really just about the quality and maintenance of the infrastructure.


I remember a wicked winter back in the middle 80s in Corvallis where the streets were covered with at least 6″ of snow. I was over at a friends place and it was past midnight when I decided to head home. I had my old cruiser/beater bike and had a blast riding back to my place through the nearly empty streets. It was so amazingly quiet, peaceful, and the snow helped light up the surroundings. Might be one of my top 10 rides that I remember the most.


Anyone try a trike? I’m considering a cargo one.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy

It’s the perfect texture!


I rode 15 miles in the snow today, 10 before 11AM, 5 more after 3PM. The afternoon snow was much more difficult – I guess that should stand to reason considering it’s been snowing all day. The texture and the grip of the snow was fine, but lots of drifts lying in wait, covering up snow-snakes. Do-able and fun but definitely a workout. Snow riding is one of those situations where being tall is a disadvantage. Flat pedals and low tire pressure helped immensely. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t get freezing rain this weekend.