No matter how you choose to travel, be sure to check weather and street conditions before you go:
When you head out, give yourself extra time and check weather and traffic reports before you go. Check PublicAlerts for breaking news and information on major service disruptions. It will provide links to ODOT's TripCheck for highway road conditions.
Here are some additional safety tips for:
Always cross at a crosswalk or at the corner. Look for oncoming vehicles before stepping down from the sidewalk and crossing the street. If possible, establish eye contact with drivers and continue looking left-right-left while crossing. Remember that oncoming vehicles may approach more quickly than anticipated and may have difficulty stopping at an intersection in rainy conditions. Make sure you are seen: wear contrasting clothing (dark top and light bottom, or light top and dark bottom) and use retro-reflective materials when it’s dark outside. Dress warmly.
If you use your bicycle for transportation, sooner or later you'll find that you need to ride at night or in the rain. Practicing good riding skills and the right equipment can make it much safer and more comfortable.
Stay Dry and Warm
- You don't need the latest and greatest cycling gear to get around town by bicycle. A decent rain jacket and pants are your best defense.
- Fenders are also a very good investment by preventing your feet from getting soaked and your clothes from getting gritty and dirty.
- Nice extras include waterproof gloves, a snug hood or cap, a synthetic layer next to your skin to wick away moisture, and rain booties to go over your shoes.
Use Front and Rear Bicycle Lights
- Lights are required by law when riding after dark and in low-light conditions.
- A white light visible at least 500 feet to the front, and a red light or reflector visible at least 600 feet to the rear. These lights allow other people to see you from the back, front and side. For more visibility at night wear bright clothing, an orange vest, or use reflective tape. The more reflectors and lights, whether blinking, flashing or solid, the better.
- To make sure you're visible, ask a friend to ride behind you and watch as you approach. Lights only work when they're adjusted so others can see them.
Slow Down on Newly Wet Roads
The first rain after a dry spell brings oil and other car-drippings to the surface of the asphalt, making for a more slippery ride. Use extra caution and slow down when traveling on newly-wet pavement.
Brake Early and Often
Allow plenty of stopping distance. Prepare to slow before you have to: gently squeeze your brakes in the rain to clear the water from your brake pads.
Avoid Some Painted and Steel Road Surfaces and Leaves
- Steel plates, railroad, streetcar and MAX tracks, sewer covers, grates and other metal can be very slick in the rain.
- For paint, Portland City crews use non-slick paint and plastics for bike lanes and bicycle markings (and those green bike boxes); however, crosswalks and other painted surfaces can be slippery. Avoid using your brakes or turning on these painted surfaces and on leaves and oily spots.
- Cross rails at a 90-degree angle and keep your bike upright when crossing to avoid slipping.
Stay Out of the Puddles
While it is tempting to splash through puddles especially if you have really good rain gear, a puddle can disguise a very deep pothole. If you to happen upon one of these, give our pothole crews a call at 503-823-1700.
Watch for street hazards
Traffic signals can be twisted to face the wrong direction or lose power during a storm. Treat all intersections with malfunctioning signals as all-way stops and use extreme caution. Fallen trees, mud from landslides, or other debris can block streets and sidewalks. Report a street hazard at 503-823-1700.
Drive safely on wet roads
- Travel gently - drive, turn, and brake slowly. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
- Do not drive through standing water or around barricades on flooded streets. Turn around safely. The wake from your vehicle can cause public and private property damage and flood houses and businesses. Disobeying a barricade that has a street closure or other message sign on it is a Class B violation according to Oregon Vehicle Code and may result in a $360 fine.
- Drive slowly and cautiously over wet leaves; they can create a slick driving surface.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If you do find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. This procedure, known as "steering into the skid," will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.
- Hydroplaning happens when the water in front of your tires builds up faster than your car's weight can push it out of the way. The water pressure causes your car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between your tires and the road. At this point, your car can be completely out of contact with the road, and you are in danger of skidding or drifting out of your lane, or even off the road.
- To avoid hydroplaning, keep your tires properly inflated, maintain good tread on your tires and replace them when necessary, slow down when roads are wet, and stay away from puddles. Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you.
- If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. This could throw your car into a skid. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the road again. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping actions. If your car has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally; the car's computer will mimic a pumping action, when necessary.
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other travelers. Keep your lights and windshield clean. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
Carry an emergency weather kit
Have a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle to keep you safe and more comfortable during long waits. Your kit should include chains, shovel, bag of sand, battery jumper cables, first aid kit, basic tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver and knife), blanket, extra clothing (hats, socks, boots, mittens), flashlight, and a cell phone or CB Radio.
Look out for people on bike or out walking
Be watchful for pedestrians and bicyclists who are also trying to get around in hazardous, low visibility conditions. Share the Road safely and responsibly.