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Freezing Drizzle / Rain Safe to Commute In?

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Freezing Drizzle / Rain Safe to Commute In?

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Old 01-16-19, 10:11 AM
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Sorry to hear about your injury but don't call me out for your forecast being wrong or riding on icy roads when it starts raining.

Watching for shadows doesn't help much in the morning when the roads are already/still frozen. It's when the road looks clear or wet and you don't realize that the shadow area is still frozen.
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Old 01-16-19, 01:40 PM
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When considering freezing rain, you also need to consider what the temperature has been for the last day or two. If it's been in the 20's, it's going to be dangerous. If it's been in the 40's, it probably won't be too bad at first. If the roads are well traveled they may be safe. If you're going to encounter any ice, studded tires are necessary.
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Old 01-16-19, 02:36 PM
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Watching for shadows doesnít help at all when itís dark. A bike headlight would have to be extremely bright to help discern black ice before dawn or after sunset, 8:00 am and 5:30pm here right now. I venture a guess most bike commuters are doing at least one leg of the commute in partial darkness right now.
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Old 01-16-19, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I don't think you need studs in these conditions. In my area, we get freezing rain like you'd get snow - you have to watch out for shadows, slick looking patches (that could be frozen), and take exaggerated care on any maneuvers, but at 31į the freezing rain is mostly liquid on the roads and probably melts off in the direct sunlight.
You cannot generalize on how slippery freezing rain is. If the ground is well below freezing, ice forms and is kept wet, the combo is about the slipperiest surface there is. Here in POrtland I've a few times been unable to walk without using the bike as a tripod. When that happens, I turn around back to the garage and either stay home or chain up my car.

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Old 01-16-19, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
Watching for shadows doesnít help at all when itís dark. A bike headlight would have to be extremely bright to help discern black ice before dawn or after sunset, 8:00 am and 5:30pm here right now. I venture a guess most bike commuters are doing at least one leg of the commute in partial darkness right now.
You know where the shadows would be during the day, right? Oh never mind, just ignore it and ride through the curves at the edge under the trees or whatever.
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Old 01-16-19, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
You cannot generalize on how slippery freezing rain is. If the ground is well below freezing, ice forms and is kept wet, the combo is about the slipperiest surface there is. Here in POrtland I've a few times been unable to walk without using the bike as a tripod. When that happens, I turn around back to the garage and either stay home or chain up my car.

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Well yeah, that's why I said "in those conditions", because I wasn't generalizing. When the streets are already covered in ice, it's normally not already 31į in the early morning IME, and OP would have mentioned it. Should I go out and ride on the ice even though it's raining, something like that.

But I can see that this whole question is too confusing, and people should probably just forget about it if they have to ask and not ride.
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Old 01-16-19, 05:31 PM
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I learned my lesson yesterday!

My bad weather commuter with studded tires had a flat that I'd been too lazy to fix given the dry weather. It was raining and ~34F, so I thought I'd be okay on my good weather bike with road tires. The temperature dropped a bit, and the ground was already frozen. After the second time nearly going down on my way home, it was time for hike-a-bike.

Studs might be slow, but they're faster than walking or going to the hospital.
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Old 01-16-19, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
..............Iíve never really needed them in the city, so you may be just fine in Boston. Generally there is too much traffic (and plowing and salt). Black ice forms best when the surface is undisturbed for a while. But you may just be getting lucky so far. Watch for those shadows on cold days.
Plowing and salt increase the incidence of black/slick ice, because they cause melting and refreezing. The salted section on the local bikeway is the most prone to black ice (with bridges coming in a near second); fortunately I don't ride that section.
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Old 01-17-19, 03:43 AM
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On my car, I use proper winter tyres as they're required by law on the continent (Europe). Proper winter tyres for snow/ice with the 3PMSF symbol. These are not common used / mandatory in the US.

In Sweden/Denmark I just used the standard bicycle and tyres and the cycle lanes were clear. In Germany, unless there was shear ice (as in an ice storm), I rode standrad MTB tyres as the paths were maintained.

In UK, if there's now/ice. I stay and the Brits can't deal with it and it's very unsafe (the university shut down due 1/2" of snow as an example).
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Old 01-17-19, 06:02 AM
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Maybe the question or the premise are a little confusing. If icing conditions exist, a cyclist has to decide whether to take the risk of riding when other safer forms of transport are available, or else mitigate this risk by using the proper equipment. Weather prediction is a science but itís not exact, and weather is only one factor of many that determine surface conditions. The NWS or Bike Forums members canít make the decision to ride for anybody. Doesnít it seem unfair to ask?
Presuming that bike commuters have a bike and a home and some sort of neighborhood or trail nearby, go and try out various slick conditions a little at a time until you feel comfortable enough to commit to a commute. I mean, if you have a car or another way to get to work already, itís hard for me to understand the benefit of the risk of riding to work in uncertain weather and surface conditions youíre not sure about the ability of yourself and/or your equipment to handle. Like, what is to be gained? What am I missing? Is bike commuting a form of thrill seeking for some people? It seems like a ridiculous question but I have to ask.
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Old 01-17-19, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
Is bike commuting a form of thrill seeking for some people? It seems like a ridiculous question but I have to ask.
To a point, for me, yes. I don't necessarily seek the thrill, but a commute in a snow storm leaves me with a feeling of accomplishment that I cannot achieve any other way. As for ice, it is a fact of life that I just deal with. I don't even consider it. When approaching a stop, I always put one foot down and drag it on the ground to check and see what I will likely encounter when I stop. My studded tires grip to the point that I don't really even think about it.
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Old 01-17-19, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by medic75 View Post
To a point, for me, yes. I don't necessarily seek the thrill, but a commute in a snow storm leaves me with a feeling of accomplishment that I cannot achieve any other way. As for ice, it is a fact of life that I just deal with. I don't even consider it. When approaching a stop, I always put one foot down and drag it on the ground to check and see what I will likely encounter when I stop. My studded tires grip to the point that I don't really even think about it.
I sure get the feeling of accomplishment, but my safety isn't just up to me. If the roads are so slick that cars are sliding around, it's too slick for me to be on the road with them. I have work and hobbies that I can turn to for feelings of accomplishment when commute has been ruled out. How long is your commute? How often do you do it? What is your route like? How often are the roads slick enough that cars are sliding around?
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Old 01-17-19, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
I sure get the feeling of accomplishment, but my safety isn't just up to me. If the roads are so slick that cars are sliding around, it's too slick for me to be on the road with them. I have work and hobbies that I can turn to for feelings of accomplishment when commute has been ruled out. How long is your commute? How often do you do it? What is your route like? How often are the roads slick enough that cars are sliding around?
I actually get the accomplishment from my general life. I have the job I want in the location I want, which was not easy. That way I don't have to deal with icy or long commutes and have the seaside in walking distance Now the family comes.
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Old 01-17-19, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
I actually get the accomplishment from my general life. I have the job I want in the location I want, which was not easy. That way I don't have to deal with icy or long commutes and have the seaside in walking distance Now the family comes.
Right, basically what I'm saying. For me, if my only way to feel accomplished is to endanger myself, well - I try not to place myself in a situation like that. It's much more difficult to engage in my family life, work, and hobbies while dead. That's the theory anyway. I suppose I may have a different style of risk assessment/management if I somehow lost my family, job, ability to pursue hobbies - but OTOH if I lost my job I wouldn't have any place to commute to. Don't get me wrong, I like to ride my bike but so far the only thing it has saved me from is being fatter and more depressed. I saw some article today about a study that shows that most cyclists have deep emotional bonds with their bikes. Not me. I just don't want mine stolen.
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Old 01-17-19, 11:58 AM
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Please don't get me wrong. As I already said, i do not seek thrills. As a firefighter, I get enough thrill without seeking it. With that said, I am also always in a risk v. reward state of mind. If I feel the risk is too high, then I will not move forward with my plan. For me, simple icy roads do not pose a huge risk on my normal route to work. This is very likely different for others.
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Old 01-17-19, 01:27 PM
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Fair question. I'll give an extreme example and claim that the same considerations apply to some extent down from severe weather down to merely uncomfortable.

I think it was 2011 or 2012, the area was hit with a severe winter storm - some snow but more seriously a lot of ice coming down very quickly. I drove home in an older car. Drivers were either too cautious to even move or else driving insanely. Slicing through red lights, bullying other drivers, many out of control sliding sideways, backwards, spinning. Stalls and crashes had blocked certain routes completely. Ice would blanket my windshield within a minute and it was a struggle to clear it enough to see safely. The heater wasn't working that great either, and the vehicle threatening to overheat. The trip home took over three hours. As I recall, it was unsafe, uncertain and miserable.

A few years later we had another, similar weather event. Evidently worse, because thousands of cars never made it home at all and were stranded for days. This time I'd wised up and taken the bike, dressed warmly enough that I wasn't especially uncomfortable other than a couple of challenges in route. I think the trip took about 45 minutes, something less than an hour for sure. I stayed out of traffic, no concern at all about that because the traffic I did encounter was stopped or barely moving. It was faster, safer, less painful and far less aggravating on the bike.
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Old 01-24-19, 10:09 AM
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regarding "judgement" my Sister once cautioned me "don't take any unnecessary risks". lucky to survive my 20s, the older I get, the easier it is to decide what risks are unnecessary. it's been interesting watching my 21 & 23 yr old adult children make their choices. it's tuff tho, cuz despite all the coaching in the world, by me, their choices, are out of my control. I try to balance terror & letting go ...
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Old 01-24-19, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Archwhorides View Post
Plowing and salt increase the incidence of black/slick ice, because they cause melting and refreezing. The salted section on the local bikeway is the most prone to black ice (with bridges coming in a near second); fortunately I don't ride that section.
we got snow, now we're getting rain & melting, soon we'll get freezing again. the weather guy was hoping for warm winds to dry roads after the rain stops & before the temps drop again. but invisible ice will rear it's ugly head later this week
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Old 01-24-19, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Ride started off fine - everything was frozen and nice and crunchy
sorry for your injury. I agree, I also like crunchy





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Old 01-24-19, 11:32 AM
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With the warming and rain overnight, the bikeway portion of my ride was a linear wet skating rink in sections. This was a good test of my new Nokian 40mm studded tires at 50 psi. The tires are fine, but the ride was a little sketchy at that pressure, would probably do better at 35-40 psi. I felt bad for the joggers who were trying to move on that surface - quite treacherous.
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Old 01-24-19, 11:56 AM
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Good points, @Phamilton . Whether one should commute in wintry conditions is a more complex question than it might appear. @acidfast7 's description of the different places he's lived show it's more about surface maintenance (or lack thereof) than the weather.
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Old 01-24-19, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Archwhorides View Post
wet skating rink
wet ice?



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Old 01-24-19, 03:05 PM
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Exactly! The advanced test requires dismounting......

Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
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