Traffic, Calmed

Enjoying this little dusting outside my house, the sort of winter version of the DOT’s Summer Streets program.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 27th, 2010 at 9:01 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Traffic, Calmed”

  1. Thomas Says:

    I wonder how much there is to unpack about the relative degree of inclement weather based on the location of a city.

    I bring this up because Atlanta just had it’s first white Xmas in over 120 years. It’s well documented that, once a few flurries fall, Georgians lose the ability to drive with any acuity. Even a light dusting of snow is considered treacherous in the extreme. Schools close. Local news goes into overdrive and we’re constantly admonished how unsafe it is to drive in such conditions.

    For those of us that grew up in the midwest, it’s kind of comical.

    Was wondering your thoughts on the subject?

  2. Jay Says:

    In Edmonton Canada this is certainly true. That picture looks like any winter day here, but we get up in the morning and go to work like any other day. We’ve had visitors from the south comment on how our weather is “amazing” (in a bad way) but how the truly amazing thing is that even at minus 40C or with a foot of snow in the last 24 hours we just get up, dig the car out and go about our days. But if Vancouver or even Seattle gets an inch of snow it is a disaster!

    Same with the airports. Our airport regularly gets the same amount of snow that Heathrow and Gatwick got last week, but we keep flying through the worst of it.

    And it is for the same reason. We are PREPARED for it. We have the snow removal equipment, everyone puts a survival kit in their car if they are going anywhere out of town, and we even throw them in sometimes when we are just running around town! And our airport has not only snow clearing equipment, but also a huge de-icing set up.

    It isn’t how much snow you get, it is how prepared you are to deal with it, IMO.

  3. Tom Says:

    @Thomas: my sister attended college at Emory, and made quite a good bit of money driving folks around on “snow days” while there. She was not as prepared as, say, Jay from Edmonton, but she knew to drive well enough to pay attention to increased stopping distances and what-all.

    Preparedness is key, of course. It’s cheaper to keep people off the roads than have snow plows in some places.

  4. Betty Barcode Says:

    We Buffalonians always chortle when airports to the south close or cancel flights over an inch of snow. Our airport closes maybe once or twice a decade due to winter storms. And we’re not even the snow capital of New York State (Syracuse has that honor), much less the USA.

  5. Opus the Poet Says:

    I think the reason for southern US cities shutting down for an inch or less of snow is not so much the amount but the consistency of the snow. When I lived in Salt Lake the canyons would routinely get 2 feet of snow, but the snow was very light and the temperature was low enough at that altitude that driving in those conditions was not too bad. When I moved to TN I had to use ice-racing driving techniques to maintain forward progress and control with anything over 1/2″ of snow on the roads because the conditions were just that treacherous. The fact that I had training in ice-racing gave me a step up over the other pizza guys and the local constabulary in getting where I was going. Also driving a tiny FWD car when they were all driving big V8 RWD cars had a major factor in it also. Being able to apply drive to the directional control wheels with the other end locked up was a big part of pointing in the right direction, and a manual transmission with a light foot in a car that wasn’t wildly over-powered helped with the making forward progress.

  6. CARL Says:

    Yes, we like it.
    and “Hello” from France

  7. Rebecca Says:

    I agree with Jay from Edmunton that preparation is everything.

    But to be fair, New York City didn’t get 1 inch of snow; we got 2 feet of snow with 68 miles-per-hour (110 kph) winds!
    Not to mention it was the day after Christmas (skeleton crews only) and the city is facing bankruptcy.

    My hat’s off to you and your fellow Canadians on how you handle snow. I wish we could do the same, but I’d rather not have so much practice with huge snowstorms – you can keep it! :)

  8. Karen Says:

    We have about 2 feet on the ground here in Flagstaff. Some people know how to prepare and are ready to deal with it, others don’t and wait around from someone else to do something.

    I’m really surprised at the bitching coming out of NYC. As Rebecca noted, they were overwhelmed during a budget crisis and during the holidays. Deal with it. Cope. Help your neighbors.

    Last year we got 4 feet in less than a week. I learned to ski home from work or use my snowshoes. It became more of an adventure and a headache. Yes, the snow berms narrowed the street considerably but that sure too care of the problems of cars speeding through the neighborhood.

  9. aaron Says:

    Ahh. Nothing like the cold death of society to bring peace to man.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

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Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



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