Riding the Portland heat wave

Posted by on June 27th, 2021 at 5:50 pm

Holy heck Portland! Record heat. It is stifling out there.

I don’t have much time because I’m leaving for vacation tonight and I’ve got family in town, but wanted to share a little video I did yesterday biking in the hottest part of the day. I went out in my neighborhood to try and find people riding bikes and ask what they were doing, and how it felt to ride in the record-setting heat.

And of course today (Sunday) is even hotter. And Monday will be hotter still. I have deep and dark feelings about what this heat means for us in a broader context, but for now let me just share this video and ask if you can tell us how you’ve coped with it.

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I know many of you were on the Loud n’ Lit ride last night. Thousands of people rolled out for that annual party. It looked amazing!

Are you riding in the heat? What has it been like for you?

While I’m here, let me say that I’m headed to Florida for some time with my family for the next 10 days. I’ll be checking in from time-to-time and we have some stories planned. Contributor Lisa Caballero will be moderating comments while I’m gone. If you have an opinion or a story to share, please send it to us and I’ll try to get it posted.

Please be careful out there. This heat is no joke.

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

Not being one to complain about the heat, I took my girlfriend to the Timbers match on our Yuba Mundo cargo bike, a.k.a. the “Yuber,” last night. That was fine.

The fifteen minutes I spent in the sun fetching dinner today were also well within my limits yet remained very dangerous. It’s like the streetcar tracks: there’s no such thing as being too careful.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Enjoy the heat in Florida. It’s already in the 90s in NC with humidity and mid 70s at night, but it’s expected out here at this time of year. Maybe we’ll get lucky and get a hurricane or two?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I went out for a couple hours in the hills — couldn’t pass up an opportunity for the hottest ride of my life.

Between everything being shut down and no one wanting to go anywhere, the roads were empty– even the normally busy ones. It was as much fun as I’ve ever had riding in town. The few vehicles that were out there were especially mellow.

The heat off the pavement was intense in places, but it really wasn’t a big deal in the shade.

I was fine if I kept effort levels down, but high effort levels caused overheating issues. I took part of the de Ronde route up to Pittock, but had to rest there because i was feeling yucky. Skyline and Fairmoint were nice. Between the shade, wind, being slightly cooler than down below, and much mellower pitches made for fun riding.

Still, the ride took quite a bit out of me — wound up taking a nap when I got back.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

Better get used to it! But, it’s the humidity, not only the heat. I used to live in Death Valley (humidity 1 or 2 percent) and worked outside regularly (with caution of course) in these kinds of temps, even higher.

nic.cota
Guest
nic.cota

You must have just missed me! I rode up to New Seasons and took Ainsworth around that time. I didn’t see a soul on a bike…

soren
Guest
soren

Watching the swarm of delivery vehicles dropping off more *stuff* this weekend was darkly comical. Apparently Portlanders were celebrating the extreme heat by doing the one thing that is contributing the most to Portland’s increased CO2e emissions.

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PS: The above is from the 2015 CAP. Portland has refused to inventory emissions in subsequent updates. Apparently, the Portland approach to ecocide is to just pretend that our greenhouse emissions don’t exist.

–Unrepentant shamer

Stinky Pinky
Guest
Stinky Pinky

I’m with Soren on this one. Can we just stop buying so damn much crap?

soren
Guest
soren

We should definitely buy less crap and demand that our crap be readily repairable (e.g. EU right-to-repair movement and associated laws).

However, another shameful aspect of just-in-time 1hr, 2hr … 24 hr post-Fordist delivery culture is that it is far more carbon intensive than the Fordist big box store shopping it replaced. It’s almost as if capitalism always finds a way to enhance profit and/or corner the market by worsening negative externalities (e.g. f***ing over future generations).

Psmith
Guest
Psmith

I always assumed that a truck delivering multiple items to the same neighborhood would be more efficient than all those people separately driving their own cars to a big-box store. Is that not true? I would be genuinely interested in learning more about the carbon intensity of urban delivery vs urban big-box stores.

JG
Guest
JG

you’re probably right, but the fact that someone has to get up off the couch to drive to the big box store surely makes it much less likely that they’ll make the trip and buy the product at all.

soren
Guest
soren

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https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/delivery-from-local-store-is-greenest-shopping-method-most-of-the-time1/

“And in countries such as the Netherlands and China, where many shoppers walk or bike to stores, visiting a brick-and-mortar location was much more environmentally friendly than in the U.S., where driving is more prevalent. “In the U.S., the last-mile footprint for brick and mortar is, like, 32 times greater than that of the Netherlands,” Shahmohammadi says.”

 
Guest
 

Ideally we’d actually make walkable and bikeable neighborhoods instead of McMansions in the suburbs that require driving to get everywhere.

soren
Guest
soren

There are two main reasons that this is not the case:
1) Online shoppers tend to have smaller numbers of items delivered so the embedded GHG emissions of each item is higher than for a brick and mortar. 2) Online shopping distribution centers are typically located in exurban/suburban areas so delivery vehicles travel longer distances.

Fig 2 from the study discussed below:

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“Brick & Mortar” = Direct purchase from local shop
“Bricks & Clicks” = Delivery from local shop
“Pure play” = Online only

You may also be interested in this figure:
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PS: Other studies find that online shopping is far more sustainable if the slowest shipping option is picked and if the consumer opts to pick up the facility from a locker/mail facility.

potato-man
Guest
potato-man

All depends on the models of vehicle and distances to stores, efficiency of routes. Pretty close to equal, all things considered, in most of what I’ve seen. However, if a car trip to a store becomes a bike trip to a store, delivery can’t compete. 1 and 2 day delivery are certainly worse than the now quaint 4-5 business day delivery of yore, involving more efficient routes and modes, at the cost of speed.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Soon as the garage blows out onto the driveway, till then its duh murcan way, buy cheap and often. . . .

Tom
Guest
Tom

I don’t understand why city planners keep dedicating so much prime city real estate to new self storage monoliths that keep popping up. Like extra freeway lanes, increasing self storage unit capacity has a demand inducing affect on consumption, by allowing people to purchase way more things than they could ever fit into their living space while keeping unused things out of circulation. There is currently around 2 billion square fee or self storage in the US and growing, essentially acting as airconditioned warehouses for unused Amazon goods. Each of the buildings has an energy footprints equivalent to around 650 homes. We need a city moratorium on new self storage construction and a climate impact fee per square foot of self storage to lower the induced consumption demand.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

Well, our current communities need those new storage unit complexes since we can no longer park our cars on the street due to those dang planner mandated bike lanes!…thus our garages have to store our cars (and our 10 bikes!)…then our stuff needs to goto the storage center! (Tongue firmly in my cheek.) Solution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt0G7ckRyBs

PS. Actually I doubt its the local planning code requiring “dedicated” lands for “self storage monoliths”…its just plain profit…I know I coulda bought a 2000s mortgage for a junk house with garage shop vs storage unit payments by now. [Live and learn.!]

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

“ Apparently Portlanders were celebrating the extreme heat by doing the one thing that is contributing the most to Portland’s increased CO2e emissions.”

Now you’re starting to get it. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. This behavior is going to continue until the tires literally melt. I don’t mind your Don Quixote routine here, but I don’t think you will need to put in the work for much longer.

soren
Guest
soren

“This behavior is going to continue until the tires literally melt.”

The USA is a hyper-individualistic society with little social cohesion (a FYIGM society) so this attitude is understandable. However, I’m cautiously hopeful that global heating will be limited to 2 C (probably with overshoot) given recent actions/commitments of China and the EU.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Americans are known for their wide-eyed optimism, so this attitude is understandable. However, as Carbon Brief says, the world is “not close” to the 2C goal.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-when-might-the-world-exceed-1-5c-and-2c-of-global-warming

soren
Guest
soren

If we continue roughly as we are now (SSP3-7.0) the author of the estimates that 2 C could be reached by a median year of 2048*. 27 years may seem like a long time but given the lack of progress over the past 50 years this feels close enough to me.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Good luck with that. It seems to directly contradict your message of the urgent need for everyone to radically change their lifestyle. And it ignores the mountain of evidence about the current situation and positive feedback effects.

soren
Guest
soren

First of all, you linked to that carbon brief piece and wrongly claimed that 2 C is a distant avoidable threshold (it’s not). Secondly, it’s bizarre that you think reaching 2 C in 27 years is somehow underestimating risk. (If we reach 2 C in such a short time period we are on an irreversible trajectory for even more severe global heating).

bArbaroo
Guest
bArbaroo

I rode to and from work Sat, Sun, and will today. The riding isn’t fun but it does feel safer without all of the auto traffic. Yesterday on the way home, I soaked my shirt in the sink before riding off, it was completely dry in about 2 miles! It was not pleasant to say the least. However, what’s worse is that local businesses are losing out. No one is out shopping (maybe that’s good = less consumption). But, on the tail of all of the challenges that Covid created for small businesses, the drop in revenue due to the heat is just another unwelcome blow.

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor

Regarding your wet shirt, I’m all for low-tech solutions. I’ve been giving the dog (and myself) a few cold showers every day.

We don’t have air conditioning, so I’m reaching into the back of my memory for every old-fashioned way of keeping a house cool, including the old block-of-ice-on-the-fan-intake trick.

bArbaroo
Guest
bArbaroo

Yes, old fashioned and low tech can work. Your DIY swamp cooler (ice & fan set up) is a great idea! I’m also just reminding myself that it will end…not, soon but eventually. I don’t know why that helps too, but it does.

foobike
Guest
foobike

Rode by *a lot* of folks sitting in cars parked along the curb with the car running and AC on full blast as they surfed on their phones. Hard to believe, but it was noticeably even hotter as I passed these idling cars. And a few of them up and decided to start moving off the curb without bothering to check if anyone was passing.

The heat is pretty stifling and the drivers on the road are even more distracted than normal and less on the lookout for bikes (got more than a few surprised looks) – so be careful out there.

Last bike riding tip for this heat: Stop by Duckworth Dock for a jump in the river, it’ll do your body good!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Idling car culture is one of the most infuriating things I see on a regular basis. Even on a 70* sunny day, where it is downright pleasant to just sit with the windows down, most people sit with engines on. People either don’t understand how cars work, or they don’t care. I’m done caring when anyone complains about the cost of gasoline.

rick
Guest
rick

It has been good. No hot car steering wheel. I wish there were far more street trees and I hope the new ones survive. The metal box on the back has been good with bringing more water.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

At a certain point, the breeze does not cool you off cycling. I was in Phoenix about 20 years ago during their hottest spell ever (until then). I went out in 116, and the wind actually heated me up as I rode. It was discouraging. The low that night was 98.

Zef Wagner
Guest
Zef Wagner

Yeah, I just recently learned about this, that above a certain point (human body temp, I think?) fans and wind heat you up rather than cool you down. Especially if it’s dry and you’re not sweating.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

A year or two ago I was reading about a similar heat wave in Montreal where police were doing welfare checks on elderly in apartments and finding many had expired even though the fans were still running and the windows were open – it was simply too hot in their apartments without air conditioned cooling.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Above 100*F, only add airflow if you can also add water to your skin. A fan with mist, for example.

Lucy W
Guest
Lucy W

I know this totally isn’t the point of the video….but I wonder how you feel riding without a helmet?? Is a hat enough protection? I have big curly hair (that I love!) and HATE both the look of wearing a helmet and the post-ride helmet hair. I’ve had little luck finding better-designed or more fashionable helmets (LMK if anyone has one they like!), and am also honestly just too afraid to go biking without one. I don’t mean to call you out, I guess I’m more wondering if you go below a certain speed or only ride in neighborhoods is it ok to ride without one? I stick pretty tightly to the greenways and multiuse paths, again for fear of being hit or injured by a car, and would love to ride helmet-free if it’s less risky! Of course, there’s always some risk, but maybe it’s not as risky as I think?

Psmith
Guest
Psmith

I personally wear a helmet if I know I’ll be riding in busy traffic or right next to it, like just normal bike lanes. But if I’m just riding around on neighborhood greenways and/or protected bike lanes like Rosa Parks, I usually feel okay not wearing a helmet. If we had a truly safe and comfortable bikeway system, no one would feel the need to wear a helmet. So that’s really the goal. Until then, I think wearing a helmet is just a personal choice based on a person’s own risk assessment. Nobody should judge or be judged for their choice of whether or not to wear a helmet.

ivan
Guest
ivan

I also have curly hair and hate what helmets do to it. I have a rule that if I’m crossing certain high-traffic boundaries (which for me are Powell, Caesar Chavez, Burnside, and Grand/MLK) then I’ll wear a helmet. If I’m biking around inside of there — and I mostly stick to greenways except for the first and last bits — then I often won’t.

I agree that it’s a personal decision. There is anecdotal evidence that putting on a helmet sometimes leads one to (unconsciously) take more risks. I know when I’m crossing major streets without a helmet, I’m definitely a bit more careful.

BrianC - PDX
Guest
BrianC - PDX

Whether or not to wear a helmet is a deeply personal choice. I wear a bike helmet every time I get on a bike. Since the first Bell (eggshell) helmet came out in the 70’s. I would just feel weird if I wasn’t wearing a helmet when I ride.

In July of 2019, while riding home on Hall Blvd, I went over the hood of a Hyundai Sonata. I landed on my head and left shoulder. The helmet I was wearing was completely destroyed. I took an ambulance ride to Providence and had a CAT scan taken. No broken bones or lasting head trauma. The ER doc was suitably impressed given the state of the helmet.

I’m a believer in wearing a bike helmet. 40 years of riding and didn’t need it. But when I did need it, it was worth it.

Lucy W
Guest
Lucy W

I’m so glad that you’re ok! And I know 100% this could be me any time I ride – I agree I’ve always worn a helmet and feel naked without one, I think I was hoping that I “didn’t have to” but reading this comment it’s like “Nope! Never going to be worth the risk.”

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I personally find that helmets with lots of vents and designed to force the flow of air around the head work far better on keeping my head cool than not wearing a helmet. On the other hand, I’ve used helmets since 1986, so I feel kind of naked when I’m without one. A headsweat dew rag or helmet liner helps a lot on keeping the head cool on really hot humid days, which is typical daytime weather here in NC June-Sept.

diordna
Guest
diordna

I wear a helmet every time I ride. It has been completely unnecessary these 20 years except for one incident when a non-descript stick I rode over managed to flip up and wedge itself between my front tire and fender. Total fluke scenario. The bike came to a screeching halt and I flew over the handlebars and broke my clavicle, scapula and a rib. The helmet was damaged pretty bad but my head was not. I empathize with the disdain for helmet hair (I have fun curly hair too), but helmet hair is fixable. Not sure what I would be dealing with if I hadn’t had a helmet that day. This random stranger highly recommends the helmet.

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

As a person who’s never lived their life through the eyes of others it is really a puzzle to me that a person would even consider vanity over safety.

Whichever your choice, be safe out there!

X
Guest
X

I’ve been a consistent helmet user, but then a couple of years ago I kind of stopped. Yes head injury is a thing but so is skin cancer. Many bike helmets don’t even shade your ears so you have to do something after-market to get protection. I use sunscreen at times but actually prefer a long sleeved shirt and an extra water bottle to keep it wet. In 115⁰F weather you have to reapply at the top of every hill.

Maria
Guest
Maria

Jonathan!!!! This was so fun to watch. Thanks for being our bike correspondent “on the ground, as conditions develop” I love that you rode along with these folks and interviewed them and hwo great that the second lady was on her way to the liquor store. I am going to make a lunchtime attempt to kill hillz tomorrow but if I feel like the hill is gonna kill me instead, I’ll tuck my kitty cat tail between my legs and run home! Here’s the link to the Pedalpalooza ride – it’s every Tuesday through the end of August: https://www.shift2bikes.org/calendar/event-13740

Jon Dohnson
Guest
Jon Dohnson

I hope those ladies were not too creeped out by some guy riding up to them.

Slow Eddie
Subscriber

Jonathan, I was very disappointed to find you without a helmet in the video! You’re certainly aware that, even if you didn’t want it to be so, anything you do on a bike sets an example that might alter some riders’ behavior. If it were anyone else, I’d probably have refused to join them in a ride without bothering to ask their reasons or argue with them, assuming they’d heard it all already and that their reasons were beyond reason. But you have so far proven to be nothing if not reasonable and thoughtful and have demonstrated a profound commitment to our community. So far, I haven’t read or heard anything to persuade me not to put on a helmet before mounting any bike. You’re the only person I’m still willing to listen to with a different opinion. Would you like to comment?
Ed

Psmith
Guest
Psmith

I’m just going to repeat my comment above.

I personally wear a helmet if I know I’ll be riding in busy traffic or right next to it, like just normal bike lanes. But if I’m just riding around on neighborhood greenways and/or protected bike lanes like Rosa Parks, I usually feel okay not wearing a helmet. If we had a truly safe and comfortable bikeway system, no one would feel the need to wear a helmet. So that’s really the goal. Until then, I think wearing a helmet is just a personal choice based on a person’s own risk assessment. Nobody should judge or be judged for their choice of whether or not to wear a helmet.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Do you wear a helmet when you drive? Because all the same rationale you gave above applies in that situation as well.

Kris R
Guest
Kris R

Wow, where’s your helmet?

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Rode home from work yesterday (SE PDX -> N Gresham). Had water bottles in the refrigerator all day, but they only stayed even somewhat cool for about 5 miles, so less than half my commute. Still sprayed down my torso and legs throughout because even though it initially felt hotter, after a couple seconds it helped cool me a bit.

Yesterday reminded me how little shade the Springwater has during the summer months. I get on the trail where it crosses Foster, and I got no shelter from the sun until less than a mile from home. That combined with the straight-on headwind made for a brutal ride. Having a backpack on didn’t help either. But seriously, that wind… it was like already working out in a sauna but then someone brings in a hairdryer, turns it on high, and sticks it right in your face. Was so grateful some friends let my family and I hang out in their pool for a couple hours last night.

rick
Guest
rick

Are there powerlines along some of the Springwater? Incense Cedar trees are great once they are tall because they don’t drop much and can be in a more confined space than other native conifer trees.

soren
Guest
soren

An IPCC AR6 draft was leaked ahead of COP26. Some passages from an AFP piece on the summary statement:

Species extinction, more widespread disease, unliveable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas — these and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and bound to become painfully obvious before a child born today turns 30.

The choices societies make now will determine whether our species thrives or simply survives as the 21st century unfolds, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says in a draft report seen exclusively by AFP.

The challenges it highlights are systemic, woven into the very fabric of daily life.

They are also deeply unfair: those least responsible for global warming will suffer disproportionately, the report makes clear.

The world must face up to this reality and prepare for the onslaught — a second major takeaway of the report.

Current levels of adaptation will be inadequate to respond to future climate risks,” it cautions.

Mid-century projections — even under an optimistic scenario of two degrees Celsius of warming — make this an understatement.

Tens of millions more people are likely to face chronic hunger by 2050, and 130 million more could experience extreme poverty within a decade if inequality is allowed to deepen.

That extra half-a-degree will also mean 420 million more people exposed to extreme and potentially lethal heatwaves.

“Adaptation costs for Africa are projected to increase by tens of billions of dollars per year with warming greater than two degrees,” the report cautions.

“We need transformational change operating on processes and behaviours at all levels: individual, communities, business, institutions and governments,” it says.

“We must redefine our way of life and consumption.”

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210623-crushing-climate-impacts-to-hit-sooner-than-feared-draft-un-report

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Nobody is going to “redefine” their way of life without a viable alternative. And our leaders cannot and will not offer such an alternative.

What the report doesn’t say is what no one wants to admit: It’s already too late!

The data are clear as can be. The humans are in denial, sleepwalking toward collective suicide.

NOTHING now can prevent the mass starvation that will come from temperatures in California and the Midwest too hot to grow enough crops to support 350 million people.

NOTHING now can prevent the seas from becoming lifeless.

NOTHING now can prevent the sea from inundating cities and farmland.

Order as much cheap crap from Amazon as you want. Drive your SUV everywhere you want. Crank up the AC. It won’t make any difference.

It’s already over. We are just waiting for the iceberg to hit. Enjoy what’s left of your world while you can.