Icy roads make for a nerve-wracking commute (plus some tips)

Icy roads make for a nerve-wracking commute (plus some tips)

Overnight moisture and freezing
temps this morning.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Lots of people went down while biking into work today due to icy roads that made this morning’s riding conditions extremely tricky. Unlike my past experiences with ice, there weren’t just a few patches in obvious spots. In several sections of my ride into downtown (from north Portland), it seemed like the entire road had a thin sheet of ice on it.

I have heard many reports of people who went down. One of our friends on Twitter reported, “Ice is coating bike lanes on N Williams and nearby. Lots of bikes down.” Another person shared, “Cyclist was down at the esplanade/rose quarter bridge. Very icy section there.” We even heard a report that Ladd Circle in southeast is “very icy.”

I managed to stay upright for my entire ride; but I was surprised that my rear tire spun out on three occasions as I accelerated from stop signs (can’t remember the last time that happened). On the Broadway Bridge, I noticed a woman walking. I stopped and walked with her after noticing the entire mid-section of the bridge (the part that’s got the non-slip coating) was very slippery. Her name was Connie. She said she had fallen and her chain came off so she just decided to walk the rest of the way into work. I nearly slipped and fell over myself just trying to take her photo!

If these conditions keep up. Here are a few tips:

  • If possible, take transit or work from home.
  • Lower your tire pressure to increase traction.
  • Slow down.
  • Take your feet off your inside pedal (like a dirt motorcycle rider) when going around sharp and/or potentially icy corner.
  • Consider using platform pedals (not cleats) if you don’t already.
  • When in doubt, walk.
  • Keep your head up and watch for other vehicles that might lose traction and slide into you.
  • Ride as upright as possible and distribute your weight evenly over both wheels.
  • Lower your saddle to make it easier to quickly dismount.

How did it go for you this morning? Share tips and experiences below…

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