Portland’s mild fall weather has been replaced by colder, wetter, winter weather, although Portland has yet to see any severe winter weather so far. Now is the time, according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), for everyone to make plans for when severe weather does arrive.
The first step in preparation is to create a winter emergency plan for your family and work colleagues with an emphasis on working from home, taking public transit and having an emergency meeting location. A single storm can produce wildly different road conditions based on timing, weather patterns and geography/elevation. Knowing the elevation and forecast for your entire journey will help with appropriate planning.
Make checklists for your business, home and vehicles as needed. Property owners, tenants and businesses should have supplies on hand, such as ice melt and snow shovels to clear sidewalks as well as pathways across their driveways. Stock up on provisions such as food, water, clothes and medications for you, your family and your pets at home, in your vehicle and at your business.
Make sure vehicle tires are properly inflated and have good tread. If you don’t already have them, buy chains to carry in your vehicle. Other helpful items to keep in your vehicle are a snow shovel, bag of sand, jumper cables, first aid kit, basic tools, blanket, warm clothing, flashlight and extra cell phone charger.
During severe weather, PBOT advises people to avoid travel if possible, waiting until conditions improve before venturing out. Additionally, delaying travel allows plows and emergency vehicles to get out and treat the roads. If you do need to travel, by utilizing public transit, walking, biking or driving, PBOT has tips. Allow extra time to reach your destination and know that severe weather can change quickly and without warning, making travel unpredictable.
Plan your route at trimet.org or call 503.238.7433 for bus and Max schedules. Portland Streetcar schedules and information can be found at portlandstreetcar.org. Allow extra time for unexpected delays in service and dress accordingly.
During severe weather, it’s more important than ever to cross at a crosswalk or corner as drivers may take longer to stop in rainy or icy conditions. Wear contrasting clothing and use reflective materials when it’s dark outside or carry a flashlight. Dress warmly, in layers, and don’t forget gloves and a hat (35 percent of body heat escapes through your head). Pick footwear with added traction to avoid slipping and falling on wet or icy surfaces.
Stay dry and warm with bicycle fenders and outfitted in waterproof layers, gloves and caps. Choose wider tires if possible for added stability, traction and control. Slow down on newly wet or leaf-covered roads. Brake early and often, giving yourself longer stopping distances and keeping a firmer grip on your handlebars. Road hazards like puddles, which can disguise deep potholes, and painted or steel surfaces like steel plates, railroad tracks and sewer covers, should be avoided.
Travel gently, driving, turning and braking slowly. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other travelers and be on the lookout for pedestrians and bicyclists. Do not pass snow plows, sanding trucks or other emergency vehicles and give them extra room to do their work. When visibility or conditions worsen, look for a safe, legal space off plow routes to park or wait for conditions to improve. Once you get to your destination, park off snow routes.