Portland Has a Bad Snow Day

Following in the footsteps of the "snowmageddon" events experienced by Atlanta in January 2014, Portland, Oregon had a surprising amount of difficulty with a small amount of snow this week.

December 15, 2016, 1:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Portland Snow Day

Portland on a snow day in 2008. | Chris Yunker / Flickr

Gillian Flaccus of the Associated Press shares news of the effects of a rare snowstorm in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday, December 14, 2016. The local story made the national news for its depiction of a crippled commute, abandoned cars, and closed schools.

Picking up the news for Bike Portland, Jonathan Maus contributed a critical perspective about why the day went so wrong.

Here’s the inconvenient truth: Our over-reliance on single-occupancy motor vehicle use has real consequences. It leads to lots of injuries and deaths, it poisons our lungs, and it makes our transportation system extremely fragile and inefficient.

To further that point, Maus shared an infographic illustrating the "Hierarchy of Mobility Resiliency." At the top "Feet." At the bottom "Cars." Maus's argument comes as a response to an article by The Oregonian, neglecting Maus's point but laying the blame on these five causes:

  1. Portland doesn't salt roads.
  2. Motorists don't carry chains.
  3. Drivers aren't experienced in snowy conditions.
  4. Portland doesn't have many snow plows.
  5. Transit doesn't reach to many parts of the city. 

Also writing for The Oregonian, Lizzy Acker found enough good humor to scour social media for snarky takes on the whole bad snow day.

While Portland's considering how this snow storm had such a crippling effect on the city, it might want to consider the example of Atlanta, which was shut down for several days in January 2014 by just a few inches of snow. The event, dubbed "snowmaggedon," was also described by many commentators as a result of auto dependency.

Thursday, December 15, 2016 in AP via OPB

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