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Our wild winter weekend


On the main deck of the Broadway Bridge as the sun finally peaked out Monday morning.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Before I share some pics and a recap from the weekend, I want to send virtual hugs and good vibes to everyone who is still without power and/or has gone through a rough few days. There was widespread damage from this storm and not everyone experienced it as a fun frolic. Hang in there friends! If BikePortland can do anything to help, please let me know.

Burnside Bridge around noon on Monday.

It was fun when it started huh? That calm and quiet where neighbors come out in droves and there’s a collective light-bulb moment where people realize how wonderful our roads and public spaces can be without the presence of cars and trucks and buses.

After a solid amount of snow fell Friday, Portland woke up to a winter wonderland Saturday. Sledding, skiing and smiling ensued for some. Then as snow turned to drizzle Sunday night, the city froze. Monday was anything but fun as trees and their limbs came crashing down under the weight of ice citywide. Coupled with widespread power outages and service closures, the storm turned from friend to foe.

And we’re still not out of the woods yet. Not only is there lots of snow and slush still on streets and sidewalks; but walkers, bike riders and other rollers likely have many days of debris and gravel in their future.

For the past four days I’ve biked and walked around quite a bit. I had my share of fun, misadventures, and hair-raising experiences trying to navigate snow-stricken streets.

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At first I stayed close to home. I installed spiked tires on my e-bike, grabbed some sleds and headed to Peninsula Park. I had a blast pulling kids up and down North Albina.

Saturday night I headed out for a bigger adventure and decided to check out the last night of the Portland Winter Light Festival. I was several miles from home on NE Alberta Street when I noticed something wrong with my front tire. Unable to fix it and unable to push the bike with the tire/tube installed, I opted to remove them both and just ride the rim. It worked great! It damaged my rim a bit, but the rim still works and it was well worth it.


NE Alberta Street Saturday night.

Everything changed Monday morning. The freeze was on and countless tree limbs blocked roads everywhere. I gave the warmer temps a few hours to melt off the ice, then headed out to do some reconnaissance. Conditions were tough. Bike lanes and shoulders were piled high with snow, so I had to share roads with car, truck, and bus drivers. I got into a sticky situation on the NW Lovejoy ramp and rode a streetcar rail/snowbank gauntlet down to 9th. Side streets were even worse. Most were either impassable due to soft snow or they had only one track. On NW 11th I played a game of chicken with someone in a nice Audi.

Scenes from Monday, February 15th. (Click for captions)

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Over on West Burnside, the lack of space for biking and walking was pronounced. People walked on the busy road as drivers sped by at 30-plus miles an hour. I was riding eastbound near 14th and got splashed when a driver flew by and hit puddles. Of course he acted like nothing happened when we met at the next red light.

As I rolled down SW Madison toward the Hawthorne Bridge I was very pleased to see that Multnomah County had plowed the bikeways leading to and on the bridge. It was a first-class welcome. Unfortunately the snow returned on the viaduct and I was once again sharing the roads.

Hawthorne was reduced to one main track. With side streets not an option, I was very grateful to have an e-bike so I could keep up with drivers. Conditions worsened as I approached SE 60th, but the view was nice.

I looped back toward the central city on Stark, then 28th, then Sandy, eventually crossing the Burnside Bridge just for fun. I headed back up to north Portland via Grand and Williams Avenue.

There’s a lot of snow and slush on the roads, lots of folks without power (including most of downtown), and we are still far from being out of this mess. I hope you’ve managed OK. Let’s all be patient and kind to each other as we get through this.

Here’s a short video with a few clips from my rides:

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