Tips for climate-friendly travel in the wet, cold, and dark

Blog Post
A person biking uphill on a residential street in the autumn
Keep walking, biking, rolling and strolling, year-round!

(Nov. 30, 2021) Winter weather in Portland means more challenging conditions for people traveling around the city. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is ready with tips to keep you walking, biking, rolling or strolling, during rainy or dark conditions. We’re all for keeping active transportation going all year long, but let’s take a little time right now to prepare to do it more safely.

As we head into the winter season, it's critical to make sure our gear is ready and in top working order. Proper maintenance and upkeep are key as gear like rain jackets, helmets, tires, brakes, and lights are critical for safety and comfort during poor weather and can break down faster and more frequently with heavy use. Scheduling regular maintenance checkups is a good practice to get into. If you have kids, make maintenance and winter weather preparation a family project. If you’re not comfortable doing repairs yourself and take equipment to a bike or repair shop, bring the kids along and let them talk with the mechanic or staff. Check out our list of Portland bike shops offering sales and maintenance service at Bicycle Shops in Portland.

Person biking with red jacket with reflective patches and a red helmet for visibility.

Whether you’re comfortable working on your own bike, scooter or wheelchair, or prefer to go by public transit and rely on the skills of an expert, you should learn to do regular safety checks. Before heading out, wipe down your equipment and check that things like brake pads, tires and moving equipment for wear and tear. If brake pads or tires look worn, if you have loose spokes, or you’ve noticed gears are slipping a bit, take care of the repairs or schedule an appointment with a mechanic right away.

Brakes, wheels, shoes and even gloves for those using mobility devices like wheelchairs, require more friction to come to a complete stop on wet pavement, so stopping takes additional reaction time. Obstacles such as standing water and tree debris can reveal themselves at any time when the weather changes. Be sure to brake early and often to give yourself plenty of time to stop under slippery conditions.

With daylight hours shrinking, we often find ourselves traveling in low-light conditions, making it harder for us to see each other on the roads. Take a few minutes to watch this video on biking in low-light conditions. You may just pick up a tip that could be helpful for your safety and those around you.

When you just don’t want to (or can’t) ride any further, TriMet can carry you and your bike. Keep a spare TriMet ticket in your wallet, bike bag or repair kit - it's great insurance in case of a flat too.

And one final message that we’re sure you’ll remember. Enjoy this video on biking visibility -  “Let’s Get Visible” is a parody of the Olivia Newton John hit “Let’s Get Physical” by Vancouver, B.C. cycling advocates, the B:C:Clettes.

Check out these resources from PBOT and other agencies have some great resources for helping you safely get where you are going when the weather gets rough: