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Thread: Black Ice

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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    .... if it's ice that is across the road, blends in with the black asphalt due to it's clarity, it would be "black ice" in my book.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    It's a 400 ft climb from work to home, that's just getting home...... if it's ice that is across the road, blends in with the black asphalt due to it's clarity, it would be "black ice" in my book.
    When you live in a country where everyone assumes we live in igloos, its still considered ice up here.
    Black ice is what you find in Pepsi/Coke slurpies/slushies up here!
    Don't need a scraper = black ice. Equivalent to frost on you windshield. Nothing a bit of salt can't fix.

    Layers upon layers of "ice" = ice. Translucent not transparent, if its still transparent its still quite mild.

    I live in the middle of rolling hills, you don't have to remind me of what ice is.
    If we didn't have regular passes by the salt truck/snow plow we'd have a sh*t load of ice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogan View Post
    Black ice here in Florida is when a rain occurs on hot asphalt. The rain brings the oils from the asphalt and droppings from leaky vehicles to the surface of the pavement. This creates what we call black ice as the surface of the asphalt is as slick as ice until enough rain falls to wash clean the pavement.
    that is a florida term.. the rest of the world knows what it is and it's not that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogan View Post
    Black ice has nothing to do with cold temperatures guys. Black ice occurs in hot weather and is just as dangerous as your cold weather ice. Studded tires will do nothing to help with black ice.
    Well, then you'd better go and update the wiki then - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_ice.
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    Black ice to me is when moisture from the air condenses and freezes on the road surface. What makes it 'black' is that it conforms to the countours of the pavement so it has no sheen. Regular ice doesn't do that, and has a sheen making it visible.

    My one cycling black ice experience occurred when air temperatures were a few degrees above freezing, fooling me into thinking all was well. Ground temperatures were below freezing. Boom I was on the ground so fast there was no reaction at all.

    An intersection near my house growing up was prone to black ice for some reason. It must have been a depression where moist air settled. Cars would slide right through the stop sign into a churchyard. Eventually the put up a gaurdrail, which protected the lawn but caused more property damage.
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    Definition[edit]

    The term black ice is inaccurately used to describe any type of ice that forms on roadways, even when standing water on roads turns to ice as the temperature falls below freezing.[citation needed] The American Meteorological Society Glossary of Meteorology includes the definition of black ice as "a thin sheet of ice, relatively dark in appearance, [that] may form when light rain or drizzle falls on a road surface that is at a temperature below 0 °C."[1]

    --------
    Above from wikipedia and is accurate.

    Here in Minnesota it forms because of frost usually early in the season before there has been any salt on the roads. Once there is *any* salt residue which happens pretty early in the winter/fall season. After that, it doesn't form unless the temp gets below -8F where salt generally quits working. Our main problem is when it is deep below zero and then during rush hour the discharge of moisture from tail pipes (liquid and vapor) causes a glaze to form that is hard to see.

    J.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I think all of you are missing a central point to BicycleCrazy's post. Studs on your bike can make riding a bicycle in ice conditions ("black ice" is an over used term) possible. But studs do nothing for the cars that are around you. They don't even make it easier to get out of the way.

    When it 'frizzles' (freezing drizzle) around here, it's time to take drive or take the bus. Being the 8 ball in a game of automobile billiards isn't good for preserving your 3rd dimension. Snow? I'll ride. Frizzle? Nope.
    I'll have to remember you won't ride in ice the next time you tell someone they don't need studs.

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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogan View Post
    Black ice here in Florida is when a rain occurs on hot asphalt. The rain brings the oils from the asphalt and droppings from leaky vehicles to the surface of the pavement. This creates what we call black ice as the surface of the asphalt is as slick as ice until enough rain falls to wash clean the pavement.
    That is not black ice... that is an oil slick. This happens on most roads when it rains and experienced cyclists know that the most dangerous time to ride in the rain is when it starts as the roads can get slippery.

    Black ice requires those freezing temperatures I spoke of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

    When it 'frizzles' (freezing drizzle) around here, it's time to take drive or take the bus. Being the 8 ball in a game of automobile billiards isn't good for preserving your 3rd dimension. Snow? I'll ride. Frizzle? Nope.
    +1 discretion is the better part of valor, when it comes to winter riding.

    Here in the metro NY area, winter temps swing back and forth through the freezing mark daily. That means that snow melts and the runoff sheets across the road (on hills) during the day, then refreezes in the evening. Since I come home in the dark, so-called black ice is even easier to miss (though I try to remember the places prone to it). Even with studded tires, it's easy to be surprised, but even if ready it does me little good if I can handle it but the car behind me can't.

    So my rule is simple, no bike commute if there's ice on the roads. I save my ice riding for frozen lakes and golf courses.

    BTW- another ice warning northern cyclists should be aware of. "Bridge freezes before pavement". When temps are only slightly below freezing, pavement may still be warm enough to thaw sleet or freezing rain. But overpasses cool fairly quickly to air temps and will ice up while the road doesn't. A nasty surprise for those not ready.
    Last edited by FBinNY; 11-17-13 at 11:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    That is not black ice... that is an oil slick. This happens on most roads when it rains and experienced cyclists know that the most dangerous time to ride in the rain is when it starts as the roads can get slippery.

    Black ice requires those freezing temperatures I spoke of.
    Our roads spend most of the year wet, so the oil is regularly washed into our watersheds. (Of course this year had nice, rare extended periods of no precipitation, but that's not the norm.) At least this prevents us from having to deal with the oil slick problem. Now if only motorists would change their windshield wipers often enough to be able to see what's in front of them when it does rain...

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    The term black ice here often comes into play in conditions where exhaust will freeze on contact with the pavement. It's thin, invisible, and found at intersections where cars have been idling while waiting for lights to change. This is of course a problem when cars are trying to stop at said intersection.

    Winter has all sorts of ways to make the roads slippery coupled with commute times occurring while it's dark. So yes, black ice is a danger, but so is freezing rain, or a thin layer of snow on top of old snow that has been compressed to ice. However, the biggest problem areas are intersections where cars are trying to turn or stop. As a cyclist you will know when road conditions are bad and you need to be extra vigilant, but it's not like cars are going to be randomly flying at you from all directions.

    Overall, I'm much more bothered by cookie dough snow than I am ice but I will concede that cookie dough snow on top of ice is about the worst.
    Last edited by tjspiel; 11-18-13 at 05:41 AM.
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    Around here the term black ice in the news has become a sensationalized term. Every morning now in the winters with temps well established below freezing is coined black ice on the morning news.

    I learned of the term black ice 12 years ago when I rode a motorcycle. It was described as spots on the road where ice would be hidden from the sun such as shaded by trees that is nearly invisible to you. Describing ice that forms from a cold ground on an otherwise above freezing temperature day is also a good description. "Black" doesn't derive from what color it is, but is derived from the fact that it is unexpected because the air temperature is not of freezing temperature.

    My wife rolled her car this past January from sliding on ice and landing in a ditch on the side of the road when it was 40° out. The air temps rose quickly in the mid morning from about 28° and it started to rain. The ground temperature wasn't warmed up yet and the road was a sheet of ice. As she had left the house and the air temp was 40° and not knowing how quickly the temps had come up, ice on the road was totally unexpected.
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    Black ice is what people looking for an excuse call ice. Ice is ice. People forget that any time the temp is below freezing, there can be ice on the road and they should drive at appropriate speeds to assume they'll hit ice at any time.

    But they want to drive fast so they just go ahead, and they made up the term "black ice" as a defense, as if ice is some kind of a ninja attack that nobody could have predicted.

    I've not been affected on my bike, because if it's below freezing I ride with studded tires. I have few incidents in the car either because I actually expect ice at any moment, I check my traction and when I'm taking a curve I slow down significantly. Last time I got caught by ice and lost control was when I was about 20 years old and quite inexperienced.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Black ice is what people looking for an excuse call ice. Ice is ice. People forget that any time the temp is below freezing, there can be ice on the road and they should drive at appropriate speeds to assume they'll hit ice at any time.

    But they want to drive fast so they just go ahead, and they made up the term "black ice" as a defense, as if ice is some kind of a ninja attack that nobody could have predicted.

    I've not been affected on my bike, because if it's below freezing I ride with studded tires. I have few incidents in the car either because I actually expect ice at any moment, I check my traction and when I'm taking a curve I slow down significantly. Last time I got caught by ice and lost control was when I was about 20 years old and quite inexperienced.
    "Black ice" is a real phenomena. I seen it defined as the ice that forms on lakes and surfaces in still cold air. Because there is no mixing of gas with the water due to wind, the ice is smooth and frictionless. Most "black ice" claims are just ice on road surfaces due to various weather conditions which really isn't as smooth and frictionless as described above. It's black because it's on a black surface.
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    To answer the OP's question, I do have problems with Black Ice too and that's why I put on studded tires when it starts to freeze and they stay on until spring. Those tires are good for the general unexpected patches here and there that occur on frozen roadways when there is enough moisture in the air to condense on the road and freeze. They help to keep you in control but you still have to be vigilant and slow down when you suspect patches of it. If there is a lot of it everywhere and cars are sliding all over then I do not ride the bike in those conditions. It's the same thing as when there is a torrential rain storm or a blizzard, stay off the bike it's too dangerous to get hit and run over or even killed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I think all of you are missing a central point to BicycleCrazy's post. Studs on your bike can make riding a bicycle in ice conditions ("black ice" is an over used term) possible. But studs do nothing for the cars that are around you.
    Bike studs do nothing. Studded car tyres, on the other hand, make all the difference. Specifically in black ice conditions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    "Black ice" is a real phenomena. I seen it defined as the ice that forms on lakes and surfaces in still cold air. Because there is no mixing of gas with the water due to wind, the ice is smooth and frictionless. Most "black ice" claims are just ice on road surfaces due to various weather conditions which really isn't as smooth and frictionless as described above. It's black because it's on a black surface.
    I call that just "ice". Most ice that I see on roads isn't all frothy and white, it's clear and appears black on the road. If you're saying that there is some ice that is actually black when it's not sitting on a black surface, then that's new to me.

    I don't think people will be happy until someone is going in front of them dying all the water fluorescent orange so that they can be alerted that there might be ice when it's cold.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juha View Post
    Bike studs do nothing. Studded car tyres, on the other hand, make all the difference. Specifically in black ice conditions.

    --J
    Really? I have been riding with bike studs for years. I've ridden on many icy roads and I do not slip. If I try to ride without them, I go down fast. I've left home in my car in the past and been unable to make it up hills (along with a bunch of other cars stuck there) and had to go back and ride my bike instead. These were roads that you couldn't even stand on, but with my studs on the bike I could ride almost like I was on pavement.
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    I think it is a good point to make that, with studded bicycle tyres we can ride in conditions when cars behave more like curling rocks and that like all other road users, we are put at greater risk when we are riding.

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    I've never had a problem with this hot-weather ice.

    Now actual black ice... it seems to me like I might get some here, but not yet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    I call that just "ice". Most ice that I see on roads isn't all frothy and white, it's clear and appears black on the road. If you're saying that there is some ice that is actually black when it's not sitting on a black surface, then that's new to me.

    I don't think people will be happy until someone is going in front of them dying all the water fluorescent orange so that they can be alerted that there might be ice when it's cold.
    Ice that freezes on a lake without any turbulence "appears" black. It's actually transparent and you are just looking down into the water. But because it is so smooth and has no gas bubbles in it, it's friction is very low. It's the best ice skating ice.

    Around here they don't dye it orange but they go out and spray salt on it so that people can drive any speed they like...or think they can drive any speed they like. Many times, they just end up upside down in a ditch
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbenaugust View Post
    I've never had a problem with this hot-weather ice.
    It was 40° when this happened...



    I was 20 miles away at work and trying to get to her. It took me 30 minutes to drive less than 5 miles. By the end of that 30 minutes, the road surfaces warmed back up and the ice was gone. I think there was over 40 accidents reported during about half an hour of rain.

    My wife and her mother was lucky. She was on a back road going fairly slow. Just crested a small hill that had some turns after it and she said she just lost all control. Slid into a ditch and basically just flopped over on the roof and slid on the roof. Said it happened so fast. They were actually finding a spot to turn around and go back. They were only half a mile from her mother's house.

    Worst part for us was, I was getting ready to pay the last car payment that Friday. The following report didn't fair so well. 2 children, 3 and 1 years old...

    http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/3...#axzz2l2tuPWEL

    • "Skrak said thermometers on PennDOT vehicles recorded air temperatures of about 39 degrees and road surface temperatures averaging 37 degrees. When the rain began, the road surface temperatures dropped into the 20s, he said."


    Air temperature didn't drop. The rain dropped the road surface temperature like a rock.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Really? I have been riding with bike studs for years. I've ridden on many icy roads and I do not slip. If I try to ride without them, I go down fast. I've left home in my car in the past and been unable to make it up hills (along with a bunch of other cars stuck there) and had to go back and ride my bike instead. These were roads that you couldn't even stand on, but with my studs on the bike I could ride almost like I was on pavement.
    My bad, I didn't make my point clearly. I definitely agree that studded tyres are a must for bikes in winter conditions. I've been using them for longer than I've been on BF, and my first posts here about studded tyres for bikes where met with mixed feelings. Attitudes have changed since then.

    But the blanket statement that cars are curling rocks everywhere simply isn't true. Where I ride, for example, winter tyres for cars are mandatory, and a lot of car drivers use specifically studded winter tyres, for the exact same reasons.

    --J
    Last edited by Juha; 11-19-13 at 12:47 AM.
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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    It was 40° when this happened...
    It was 40F somewhere but I doubt that it was 40F everywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post

    • "Skrak said thermometers on PennDOT vehicles recorded air temperatures of about 39 degrees and road surface temperatures averaging 37 degrees. When the rain began, the road surface temperatures dropped into the 20s, he said."


    Air temperature didn't drop. The rain dropped the road surface temperature like a rock.

    Looking at the report you linked to, the overnight temperature was in the teens and it appears to be winter so the ground was cold to begin with. The very surface layer of the road may have been at 40F but it would have been a thin layer of sun warmed pavement on top of a cold subsurface. You can't freeze ice on a surface above the freezing point of water at atmospheric pressures. Just isn't going to happen. The freezing rain...and that what this was...sucked what little heat in the pavement out and froze to the ground quickly. It would have also dropped the air temp rapidly because water has a higher heat capacity than air does. You'd have to provide a mechanism by which water near the freezing point could fall though a column of air, hit the ground and freeze without decreasing the temperature of the air column. That violates a couple of important thermodynamic laws which have never been violated before. Ever.
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