November 27, 2001
9:39 AM   Subscribe

Minneapolis declared a snow emergency this morning. That means parking will be banned on all parkways tomorrow. What's a parkway? The city has a simple answer.

So, the question is, how does your city torment you?
posted by mrbula (62 comments total)
My favorite paragraph: "Almost all of the Parkways have green street signs, except for a couple, like Kenwood Parkway, that have some white ones. But even if they all were green, it wouldn't help differentiate them in the Snow Emergency rules because half of the non Snow Emergency Routes are green as well."
posted by mrbula at 9:40 AM on November 27, 2001

chicago plows the middle of the streets, which is all well and good, until you realize that they push all the snow you shoveled out in front of your house back in. this works well with the tradition of placing old chairs and sundry junk in front of your house or apartment so as to reserve "your spot," as those then are buried.
posted by moz at 9:44 AM on November 27, 2001

i don't understand why snow plows weren't out all morning. I live on East River Road (with a green sign, a.k.a. Anoka County Highway One) and it didn't look like it was plowed once. There was so much slush and ice that people were forced to drive 20 mph down the highway.

In Minneapolis, there are Green signs and Blue signs and Brown signs, but no one really understand what the colors mean.
posted by TacoConsumer at 9:45 AM on November 27, 2001

I heard that in Minneapolis they DRIVE on the parkway and PARK on the driveway! What will those strange Minneapolitans do next?

Seriously, people should make a study of snow removal in Montreal. It is a wonder to behold. They don't just plow the snow here - they actually come by a couple of days later and snowblow it all and truck it away. On every street, not just busy thoroughfares.
posted by mikel at 9:50 AM on November 27, 2001

Brown used to mean "Parkway", if I recall correctly. Green and blue used to be part of a meaningful plowing code too. Obviously, all that must have made too much sense, so it got tossed in the garbage. And don't get me started on the garbage guys who patrol the alleys with a tape measure, so they can refuse to take anyone's garbage if their bin is more than x inches (six? eight?) from what they define as the edge of the alley.
posted by gimonca at 9:50 AM on November 27, 2001

Besides not really having much foresight in terms of plowing the roads in the winter (I have yet to see a plow until there are at least 6 inches of snow on the ground), the big problem with the town is the complete bike unfriendliness. There's an 50 square block area downtown where it's illegal (yes, you'll be ticketed) for riding on the sidewalks, yet try riding in the street and you almost (or do) get hit nearly every time. True, that's partially the fault of a large majority of arsehole drivers, but forcing bikers onto the streets (without bikelanes) is something that really torques me about this town.
posted by almostcool at 9:53 AM on November 27, 2001

In minneapolis they scrape (plow) the streets at 3am waking anyone up who lives next to a road... I think they were trying to get the last 1/32" of the snow off the road outside my apartment last night... *YAWN*
posted by manero at 9:56 AM on November 27, 2001

how does your city torment you?

i live in london uk. we don't get snow.

instead we get tormented by city slickers jumping in front of trains, train drivers striking, drunks smashing up everything, shit take-out food, warm lager, cold ale, dismal politicians.

most of this is outweighed by the fact it is a cool place.
but you asked.
posted by Frasermoo at 10:01 AM on November 27, 2001

If you live close enough to a highway in MSP it's not so bad, really. Say it snows overnight - it'll be slow driving to work/school in the morning, especially if it's the first snow and people have forgotten how to drive in the winter, but by evening the major freeways are all clear. I miss the amazing abilities of the snow removal teams back home.

Only downfall is that school doesn't get cancelled too often unless there's a risk of frostbite. The best we got was a late-start schedule, so if you got to school on time there was nothing to do.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 10:02 AM on November 27, 2001

Some years ago, the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut, had its first and only truly Socialist mayor. After a very big snow storm, there were many complaints that nothing was being done to rid the city of the snow on city streets. Jasper McLevy, the Mayor said: God put it there and He will see that it is taken away. And he was right!
posted by Postroad at 10:05 AM on November 27, 2001

Snow? That's a funny word. It's 81 degrees here and sunny on the southeast coast of South Carolina, sky so blue it makes your eyes hurt to look at it. Doors and windows open.

And I can't really say that my city torments me with tourists. God love 'em, I grit my teeth sometimes being behind a carriage or a tour bus, but that gets wiped away when I walk past someone and hear them say "wow, that's pretty" (not referring to me, but to some historic structure).

Rather, my only rant here is towards bicycles. I'm all for making streets bike-friendly, but until then, cyclists need to behave. I always give bike riders on the street the same space I give a car, I pass properly when safe to do so, etc. In return, I expect them to ACT like a car - signal, stop at lights and not run them, etc. I lose all respect for a cyclist who wants to be on the street when it's convenient, and disregard the traffic regulations when it's convenient to do so.

Okay, rant over. But snow? Wow. We had some of that a few years ago, a quarter-inch or something, I think.
posted by ebarker at 10:07 AM on November 27, 2001

Seattle torments: Parking signs that say "No Parking South of Here", which assumes A) you know your compass directions, B) the street runs reasonably North-South, and C) How far 'South of here' does the sign actually imply? 10 yards or 10 blocks?

With the streets here running all sorts of diagonal, curving and differing directions, it can be tough to interpret these commanding signs.
posted by kokogiak at 10:10 AM on November 27, 2001

In Baltimore, they seem to dump so much crap on the road to fight the snow that you are doomed to skidding around on essentially gravel roads for the following week.

And then people try to reserve their spaces with chairs and shit, and then get pissed off when you run them over. What do people think about this? Does anyone think that you should be able to reserve a space that you dug out?
posted by donkeymon at 10:12 AM on November 27, 2001

reserve car spaces with chairs?

posted by Frasermoo at 10:23 AM on November 27, 2001

In Moscow, I saw snow-removal trucks load snow into dump trucks and then dump it in the river, ostensibly instead of just pushing it aside. I thought that was good.

Here in Oakland, we don't get snow, but I can drive 3-4 hours to visit it in Tahoe. I like it that way.
posted by msacheson at 10:24 AM on November 27, 2001

Yeah, someone will dig their car out of the snow, and then put road cones or porch chairs or some other detritus in the spotwhen they leave so that other people can't take it, because they figure that they dug out the space, so they own it. It's just wrong in my view.
posted by donkeymon at 10:25 AM on November 27, 2001

I once lived in a town in West Virginia that required all shop workers to dress in period costume for their Christmas days, or whatever it was called. This resulted in a lot of bonnets and blue jeans (at least in our shop), but the civil war buffs were in their glory.
posted by kittyloop at 10:29 AM on November 27, 2001

Several years ago, when I lived in Louisville, there was a respectable snowstorm -- about a foot of snow. Across the river in Indiana, they plowed the highways and Interstates without incident, and kept everything flowing. Louisville's snow removal team, however, wasn't quite up to the job. They were short on plows, and ended up clearing the on-ramps for the Interstates -- but not the off-ramps.
posted by delapohl at 10:32 AM on November 27, 2001

Mmmmm ... Houston. Whatever downsides it might have, snow is not one of them.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:37 AM on November 27, 2001

i love snow, to be honest. to be snowed in is one of my dreams (which comes true every few years). and i don't mind shoveling. i just dislike shoveling the same shit twice.
posted by moz at 10:40 AM on November 27, 2001

Our snow-removal crews are pretty good, unless you live on a side road that's not well-traveled.

But they seem to get the job done reasonably well, even after a pretty big snowstorm.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:41 AM on November 27, 2001

msacheson: In Chicago, they used to dump snow in the river, until someone's car got pushed in along with it. I imagine there's all sorts of pollution reasons why we don't dump snow in the river anymore
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:46 AM on November 27, 2001

Reserving snow-shoveled parking spots in Chicago. Note that Mayor Daley expressly approved of this practice in a speech last year. IMHO, it makes the town look like some kind of sorry flea-market.
posted by Mid at 10:49 AM on November 27, 2001

I suppose it's kind of funny that here, in Toronto, Canada, we haven't gotten any snow yet, let alone a volume that would warrant an 'emergency'. How much snow is that in Minneapolis, anyway?
posted by Jairus at 10:52 AM on November 27, 2001

In S.E. Wisconsin, at the first whiff of snow or ice, they bury the streets in road salt. For the next nine months, everything everywhere is encrusted in evaporated salt spray. The finish of your car looks like the lime deposits on your old college apartment's bathtub faucet.

Instead of using the more expensive stuff (calcium chloride, I think) that isn't so corrosive, they use the cheap salt that causes expensive damage to vehicles and roadways.

And several times a year I'll end up behind an enormous city dump druck pouring salt out on a bone-dry freeway, apparently to just make some salt-pouring, car-destroying quota.
posted by Tubes at 10:54 AM on November 27, 2001

In Minnesota we dump so much salt on the roads that shoving the snow into the river would probably make the Mississippi a saltwater river.

And I kinda like the sound of the plow going by at 3am, it's a very "winter is outside and I'm warm in my bed" thing. Now, the garbage trucks with "Lite Rock" blaring and making other noises at 6am every Saturday morning -- I can do without.
posted by fnirt at 10:55 AM on November 27, 2001

So - donkeymon, by your reasoning, it's perfectly okay for you to 1) not shovel out a spot for yourself and 2) snag the space somebody else spent an hour of hard work on?

Talk about wrong...
posted by Irontom at 11:00 AM on November 27, 2001

I live in New York, well the Queens borough of New York, very close to Northern Blvd. which is an emergency snow route, so that road is usually well plowed. My street is also plowed two maybe three times when it snows because of Northern Blvd.

Mumbai (Bombay) gets no snow, but we get tons of Monsoon rains. There are days when it rains so much that the streets get flooded, and the city comes to a stand still. Those are fun days, no school, no nothing.
posted by riffola at 11:00 AM on November 27, 2001

Jairus: Don't forget a few years back, when we got buried so bad that the mayor had to call in the army to dig us out. Not exactly torment, but it did allow the rest of the country to point their fingers and laugh.
posted by CleverHans at 11:01 AM on November 27, 2001

The Twin Cities got about six inches, not much, but enough to plow the streets. (More often than not a snow emergency isn't as much an emergency as it is an announcement that people have to get their cars out of the way of the plows.)
posted by mrbula at 11:03 AM on November 27, 2001

Dallas Torments: Every time there is more than a quarter inch of ice on the road (which only happens once or twice a year) the city shuts down every freeway...every single one. In fact many businesses close, because employers are scared out of their mind.

Oh yeah and also...the new arena..Ick!
posted by Benway at 11:06 AM on November 27, 2001

CleverHans: True enough... I was living in Ottawa at that point, so I was one of the pointers, rather than a pointee...

I am curious, in any case, to see how 'snow emergencies' compare in various cities across the US and Canada. The common (perhaps totally unfounded) perception here is that Americans tend to freak over any heavy snowfall.

How much snow is needed before stores start shutting down, and schools close, in the US?
posted by Jairus at 11:06 AM on November 27, 2001

Not really a torment, but... Boston (maybe just suburban Boston), at the first dusting of snow in the winter or late fall, the municipal offices would unleash the full fury of their snow-plowing force. Mind you, this is all well and good until you realize you are driving through 6-inches of salt and sand on all the roads...and when the first real storm hits (usually a month or so later) suddenly the budgets have all but run out and the roads are a mess.

Happens every year.
posted by tpl1212 at 11:08 AM on November 27, 2001

In St. Louis, the locals gleefully display an inability to drive in even the lightest snow. The first quarter-inch of the season that comes down, everyone immediately goes into panic mode and forgets everything they learned about snow-driving from last year; all the Explorer moms fail to remember that four wheel drive means exactly dick if all four of your wheels are off the ground; the semi's all simultaneously accelerate by 10 mph; and the rest of the rabble oversteer, overbrake, switch lanes incessantly, and subsequently skitter off the highways like bugs off a hotplate. The cops get in on the act by pulling over the half-dozen people who can drive in the snow, causing gawkers' blocks and numerous incidents of more advanced gully-driving.

Then another quarter-inch comes down, every business, school and restaurant shuts down, the power and telephone lines begin shutting themselves off at random intervals, and people "trapped" at work start making frantic phone calls like its Ragnarok.

Then we drink, and discuss how much worse the snow was back in the good old days before global warming.
posted by UncleFes at 11:15 AM on November 27, 2001

The DC area has an overabundance of foreigners with their "what me worry?" diplomatic tags. Guess what? People from Honduras don't know shit about driving in snow.

Not that the locals are much better. My father always swore that if you spit in the street and it froze overnight they'd cancel school.

I tried. It only worked sometimes.
posted by NortonDC at 11:25 AM on November 27, 2001

Note that Mayor Daley expressly approved of this practice in a speech last year. IMHO, it makes the town look like some kind of sorry flea-market.

The thing that gets me on my street, is that my neighbors have nice furniture and don't know it. I see Eames Chairs, and Herman Miller kitchen furniture frm the 50's sitting in the snow. Nice Eemco aluminum chairs covered with icicles. They probably replaced this nice old stuff with some bent tube monster from K-mart. A friend of mine saw some nice Mission desk with some leg rot blocking a space 2 years back. Amazing snow stories. This winter I am carrying a camera.
posted by thirteen at 11:34 AM on November 27, 2001

Irontom, the other part of my reasoning is that for someone to be in the position to steal a spot, they must be in a car, a car which they must have dug out earlier in the day. So maybe you don't get the same spot you spent an hour digging out; there's still a spot somewhere for you. A spot is a spot whether it's snowing or not.
posted by donkeymon at 11:35 AM on November 27, 2001


In my years in Utah's public schools, I got a grand total of one snow day, and that was because there was so much snow on the school that it had to be shoveled off before the roof collapsed.

My oldest son is fourteen now, and he's yet to get a day off because of snow.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:35 AM on November 27, 2001

I live at the bottom of a very steep hill, the subdivision is 47 years old but up until 3 years ago it did not officially exist on any city maps. It snowed, I stayed home.
posted by Mick at 11:40 AM on November 27, 2001

I grew up in Reno, NV which, being in a rather arid area doesn't get much in the way of water from the sky in any form yet being at a high enough elevation and far enough north, precipitation comes in the form of snow through the winter months, often only a few inches. Locals there are pretty much used to it and drive accordingly, the local roads departments are prepared and salt and plow major streets and the highways quickly enough. A couple of times a decade a decent storm will leave 1 1/2 feet (40-50cm) of snow and that will pretty much shut the area down. Not enough snowplows, people having trouble getting cars out of driveways, people shocked at the amount of snow, etc.

Tahoe area can get much deeper snowfalls, the yuppies that moved there cause it is a great place to live in the summer are in for a surprise when they find their SUV is no match for 6' (2m) of snow and snowdrift.

Here in Las Vegas the city shuts down at a mere dusting of snow, people drive at 20 mph through the wet streets if flakes are falling. Rather funny, though annoying if you've grown up elsewhere and are used to a much greater snowfall.

I miss the snow...
posted by mutagen at 11:41 AM on November 27, 2001

One time, I scooped up some yellow snow and put it in a paper cone and told my sister it was a snow cone and she....well, never mind.
posted by msacheson at 11:45 AM on November 27, 2001

Great link, mrbula. Very droll.
My town, Jupiter, Fla., annoys me by allowing dogs on the beach. Most Florida cities ban dogs on beaches, but Jupiter expressly allows them because dog owners got together and pledged to scoop the poop and to gather en masse one Saturday a month to clean beach litter. They do both, which I'm grateful for. I've never stepped on dog poop on our beaches.
However, many dog owners believe that all human beings share their love of dogs. I'm not a dog lover and I believe I'm not alone. I don't enjoy having a dog run up to me, sniffing my ass and licking my hands and kicking sand everywhere.
I don't allow my 5-year-old son to run amok all over people's beach blankets and grab their food, but a few dog owners allow their dogs to do so. They're not apologetic about it, either.
That's how my town drives me nuts. It allows people to take their dogs to the beach.
posted by Holden at 12:25 PM on November 27, 2001

What does a snow plow sound like? I think I saw one in a movie once....

Here in Las Vegas the city shuts down at a mere dusting of snow, people drive at 20 mph through the wet streets if flakes are falling.

That doesn't require flakes; same thing happens if the precipitation is liquid. Before last weekend's brief shower, when was the last rain? March?
posted by rushmc at 12:31 PM on November 27, 2001

That's how my town drives me nuts. It allows people to take their dogs to the beach.

Take Hershey bars with you when you go. Threaten to feed them to any dogs that approach you, and their owners will keep they away from you. (No advice on how to keep them from melting.)
posted by rushmc at 12:33 PM on November 27, 2001

Thanks, rushmc. I think I'll place a few Hershey bars on the sidewalk in front of my house, too.
Should I unwrap them first or keep the foil on?
posted by Holden at 12:36 PM on November 27, 2001

Real funny. Guess who'd be breaking the law if you fed the chocolate to dogs on the beach? Guess who'd be pissed off enough to pursue?
posted by NortonDC at 12:52 PM on November 27, 2001

If you leave the foil on, the shredded bits will twinkle in the moonlight, thus warning the owners of the dreadful slippery mess into which they are about to step. It's best to remove them for stealthiest results.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:52 PM on November 27, 2001

UncleFes sez: In St. Louis, the locals gleefully display an inability to drive in even the lightest snow.

Well, I grew up in St. Louis (and now live in Seattle), and let me tell ya, the St. Louis drivers are Snow Gods in comparison to people in Seattle, WA or Portland, OR. One recurring theme is that "tire chains counteract all effects of bad weather." One of my fond winter memories from my time in Portland was watching some doofus on Tualatin Valley Highway in Beaverton (for you locals, that short stretch that crosses over the railroad tracks near Murray and gets up to about a 55 mph speed limit for like 3/4 of a mile). Anyway, the cheesy tire chains (the "cable" chains you get for cars) all say "don't go over 30 or 35." This guy was zipping along about 60, and one of the chains had broken, and was scraping all the paint off the side of the car in a big arc around the wheel well. Lots of cool sparks and sound effects, too. There was just the slightest dusting of snow, a half inch maybe.

I was stopped at a light waiting to cross, so I just saw him go by, and don't know what happened in the end. Probably ended up in the car-eating ditch that all Oregon roads have alongside instead of sidewalks. They fill up pretty quickly in the winter, which at least keeps the roadways clear.

Ah, memories...
posted by doorsnake at 1:14 PM on November 27, 2001

In Cincinnati, we've got the usual issues listed above (paranoid drivers, inadequate plowing)complete with an 'S' curve on I-75 coming into town from the south that is dangerous in fair weather. But what used to not so much torment me but mostly just make me laugh out loud was when I used to work in a grocery store and, within the hour of the first flake hitting the ground, we would be sold out of milk and bread. As if we're living in the dark ages where a snowfall could prevent you from reaching the store for months at a time.

I'm with you Holden. how come dog-people don't understand that I don't want to smell like the last 10 things the dog licked? How exactly would people who don't own dogs know not to feed dogs chocolate? (outside of reading this thread of course)
posted by srw12 at 1:16 PM on November 27, 2001

Hey Mutagen, I moved to Seattle from Reno about two years ago. It was surprising how matter-of-fact people there were about driving in the snow. Of course half the city drives 4x4s and there was never more than a few inches on the ground anyway. But I think this is because if you head up into the Sierras from Reno in the winter, you really need to know what you're doing. I crossed Donner Summit a few times during winter, once during a blizzard... damn, was that ever fun.

Seattle doesn't get snow. Half an inch of greyish slush on the ground doesn't count. At least it's only 45 minutes to the summit on I-90...

posted by Mars Saxman at 1:30 PM on November 27, 2001

How exactly would people who don't own dogs know not to feed dogs chocolate?
How does anyone know anything?
posted by thirteen at 1:31 PM on November 27, 2001

Alternate Side Parking Rules for NYC
posted by mmm at 1:46 PM on November 27, 2001

How does Miami annoy me, let me count the ways:

1. Unbelievably incompetent politicians.
2. Incredibly corrupt politicians.
(That said, being a politician in Miami has one unusual requirement: a detailed foreign policy. Any kind will work, as long as it's vehemently anti-Castro.)
3. Really, really incompetent voters. (I guess that explains the politicians. We thought we were voting for someone else.)
4. Really, REALLY dangerous drivers. I mean, it only rains about 6000 inches a year. Yet the slightest sprinkle always results in multi-car pile ups. Why, why, why...
5. Well-connected fat-cat land rapists developers (see #2)

At least the only snow we have is imported.
posted by groundhog at 2:16 PM on November 27, 2001

I've lived in Minneapolis and St. Paul for a good 8 or 9 years. The rule is easy. Park where everyone else is parked. If your one of only 3 or 4 cars on the street and the other half is completely filled, you better move.

when i lived in st paul on grand ave, i simply parked a few roads in (side streets) from the ave and walked. easier than remembering to move your car. they sometimes tow, but usually leave you a ticket. though they'll nip your car without care.

and i'm in the cities now and it's been snowing nearly constantly for a couple of days. it's pretty bad out (driving wise anyways).

and as for noise at nights, i too enjoyed the sound of scrappin - didn't bother me at all. it was the BEEP BEEP BEEP of the little plows backing up that pissed me off.
posted by Zebulun at 2:51 PM on November 27, 2001

Gotta love living on California's central coast - snows maybe once a decade, tops, but when it does, all hell breaks lose. Two inches of low-grade slush and you've got closed mountain roads as far as the eye can see. Bonus points for the copious numbers of redwood trees that are unaccustomed to bearing all that water-weight, turning pretty much any wooded area into a Branch-Spewing Harbinger of Doom.
posted by youhas at 3:21 PM on November 27, 2001

Guess who'd be breaking the law if you fed the chocolate to dogs on the beach?

I said threaten to feed it to them, not feed it to them.

That said, I'll bet one could make a good harrassment case against anyone whose dog ran over and ate your chocolate bar while you were trying to mind your own business and enjoy your day on the beach. :::sniff, sniff:::
posted by rushmc at 3:36 PM on November 27, 2001

How does anyone know anything?

What is "knowing," anyway?
posted by rushmc at 3:37 PM on November 27, 2001

I live in Perth Western Australia, it's our spring at the moment and we never get snow in winter anyway! What really annoys me about my city, well all of Australia actually, is the fact that yesterday it was 35c (95f) and today it will be 30c (86f) and the council will insist on spraying fake snow on all the windows to try and get that festive feeling!
posted by Civa at 3:59 PM on November 27, 2001

I live in Tokyo. Local annoyances:

1. Racist mayor.

2. Crowded trains.

3. Brown skies (only some suburbs)

Snow happens once or twice a year. It shuts down most of the overland train lines, and since those connect to the subways, the subways stop too. Peope jumping in front of train has the same effect, though not on as broad a scale.
posted by chiheisen at 8:11 PM on November 27, 2001

I live in Seoul. I have a whole country tormenting me. I whine about it in one of my blogs.

At least I haven't been poked with a pointed stick today, so it's all good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:36 AM on November 28, 2001

If you put your furniture in the street, isn't it free for the taking? Couldn't a guy with a truck drive around and collect chairs? (And wouldn't that be fun?)

> I live in Seoul. I have a whole country tormenting me.

Try this place. Being poked with a stick is a national duty and you have to pay for it.
posted by pracowity at 5:39 AM on November 28, 2001

Snow torments of New York:

1. Little or none

2. Ratings whore weathermen who promise the stuff,
though it almost never arrives frozen

3. Instantly grey

4. People who don't like snow
posted by ParisParamus at 5:55 AM on November 28, 2001

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