(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)
With yesterday’s storm finishing up over night, we woke up to several inches of snow covering Portland streets. Before the next storm makes it way to us something this evening, I headed out today to see what was going on.
With many businesses and all public schools closed for the day and tons of people staying home from work, the roads were quite calm. Residential streets that had little to no auto traffic and that don’t get any official plowing attention were difficult to ride on; but larger streets were relatively easy to navigate. Of course, I had to take the lane in order to stay out of the powder sections; but other roads users were much more calm and courteous than usual.
I ride side-by-side with a woman on N Vancouver Ave, chatting pleasantly as people drove their cars slowly behind us and waited for a large opening to slowly go around. Same thing happened on NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, where I took the right lane and people simply drove by in the left lane.
I stopped to check out the Lloyd District and noticed that the new bike lane NE Multnomah St. hadn’t been plowed at all. There were a few inches of fresh powder to negotiate and it didn’t help that in front of the Lloyd Center Tower, valets parked cars and scooped snow from the sidewalk right in it.
It was smooth sailing from the Lloyd, along NE 12th, then back toward downtown on Couch and the Burnside Bridge. Once on the bridge, I even noticed a guy who was using a hand-held snowplow to clear off the bike lane!
As for “sneckdowns” â€” a term popularized by our friends at Streetsblog to show how snowy streets can illuminate how little space auto traffic actually needs (versus how much we devote to it) â€” I didn’t see much of that. I think it’s because so far our snow is too dry and the air is still too cold so it’s not melting yet. The only sneckdown I did notice was on an I-5 on-ramp where we clearly have room for a few cycle tracks…
As for downtown, it’s pretty mellow with nothing interesting to report except for a bunch of white stuff all over the place. Here’s a shot of W Burnside just east of Third.
My social media timelines are full of people exploring parks with their mountain bikes and generally enjoying the day. A group from Joe Bike on SE Lincoln are headed up into Mt. Tabor later today for some riding action.
What are you up to on this fine snow day?
And just FYI, the forecast is calling for another storm this evening, so keep that in mind if you plan to travel around this weekend.
UPDATE: Several people have asked how I’m getting around so easily in these conditions. I’m riding the same bike I ride throughout the year â€” my custom Ahearne (see below). The only modification I’ve made is to lower the tire pressure for extra traction. It’s working out great so far…