Car Dependence and Catastrophe

Last week the Willamette Valley got hit by a winter storm that dropped several inches of snow. Portland has only a few snowplows, people don’t know much about winter driving, and many don’t use snow tires, so the city shuts down with even a small amount of snow.

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Stalled traffic and people abandoning vehicles on Highway 26 just outside downtown Portland last Wednesday. Credit: Fox 12

This recent storm hit at midday, so school was open and people were lulled to work thinking … well, not thinking about their commute home until the snow started sticking about 1:00 PM. By then it was too late. I left work on my bike soon after and Naito Parkway was already locked up with traffic. I heard stories of hours-long waits to go a few miles. Highway 26 over the Sylvan Hill out of downtown became an obstacle course of abandonned vehicles. Some steep local streets had multi-car pile-ups with cars wedged sideways.

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