Recently, we provided a few tips for effectively biking through wet leaves, which have just about saturated Portland’s streets. With temperatures expected to dip below freezing soon, now is the time to prepare for safe winter bicycling and icy conditions ahead.
Black ice refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface. It’s virtually transparent on asphalt, making it practically invisible to bicyclists, but just as slippery as regular ice.
Keep reading for tips to avoid being caught by surprise on slick roads.
Get your bike ready for ice.
- Lower tire pressure to the lowest recommended psi.
- Lower your saddle slightly to lower your center of gravity. (It’s also easier to get your feet down flat on the road should you suddenly need to.)
- Plan your route ahead of time. Keep in mind: side streets might not be treated for snow or ice.
Be aware of how ice affects different surfaces.
- Streets are most slick when it first begins to rain or snow.
- Metal, including manhole covers and bridges, and painted surfaces can be especially slick.
- Bridges and overpasses can freeze more easily and take longer to thaw than regular roadways.
Know what to do when you encounter ice.
- Slowing down may not always be the safest option. Speed provides momentum, and momentum keeps a bicycle upright. As always, use your best judgment.
- Take turns much more gradually, and don’t lean into turns as much as you normally would. Try to keep the bike as upright as possible.
- Avoid sudden changes of direction and maintain a smooth pedaling action.
- Give yourself longer stopping distances, and keep a firmer grip on your handlebars.
- Lay off the front brake. On ice, you don’t want to lose any of your front wheel’s traction — loss of control at the front is going to be sudden and very hard to recover from.