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.

Read Time: 2 minutes

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

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Aerial view of MBTA commuter rail station in Concord, Massachusetts among green trees

Massachusetts Zoning Reform Law Reaches First Deadline

Cities and towns had until January 31 to submit their draft plans for rezoning areas near transit stations to comply with a new state law.

February 1, 2023 - Streetsblog Mass

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2, 2023 - Curbed

Covered pergolas for outdoor dining line the curb on Ballard Avenue, Seattle

Seattle Historic District Could Remove Street Dining

Despite the popularity of Ballard Avenue’s outdoor dining pergolas, some district board members argue the patios don’t match the district’s historic character.

February 7 - The Urbanist

Rendering of landscaped street with street trees and pedestrian sidewalk

South L.A. Complete Streets Project Back on Track

First proposed in 2015, the Broadway-Manchester redesign would add bike infrastructure, pedestrian improvements, trees, and other amenities.

February 7 - Urbanize LA

Spanish-style State Street commercial buildings in downtown Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara Expands ADU Program to Boost Housing

The city hopes that permitting larger ADUs and making adaptive reuse easier will help it meet its state-mandated goal of building over 8,000 new housing units by 2031.

February 7 - Noozhawk

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.