Do cars cause snow chaos?

Posted on January 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm,

As readers in the UK will know, we’re currently undergoing the annual panic about how a few inches of snow are bringing our country to a standstill. I’ve been wondering whether one of the reasons this happens is that our society is built around travel by car.

The reason I’ve been wondering this is that, as somebody who travels everywhere by foot or by bus, I’ve barely had any trouble. My bus journey to work is almost entirely unaffected. It’s been a little bit slower, allowing me the time to finish the Metro (the free paper they give out on public transport) by the time I get to my stop, but still on time. On foot, the main difference is that I’ve had an excuse to wear my walking boots. When I have slipped, it’s mostly been on water in a subway – the exceptions being when I’ve been out late in the evening, it’s been dark enough that I have trouble watching my footing, and the snow is in the process of freezing. Meanwhile, my colleagues who drive to work have had all sorts of complaints.

Now, obviously it is possible to have a car culture in a permanently snowy place – that’s what snow tyres and snow chains exist for. But such adaptations aren’t worth it where snow only happens for a week or two each year. Also, the snow and ice does cause problems getting around on foot for the disabled and elderly. But for those of us who are able-bodied, I think we’d suffer far less disruption from the snow if we were less dependent on our cars to get us around.

One Comment

  1. Posted February 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I sold my car last year and have been using public transport to get to work and even when visiting customers for work. I’ve found it more than adequate and has never failed to get me home, even with the recent snow. Although I do have a 30 minute walk to the station from where I live it may not be an accessible option for people with disabilities.

    Buses would have been a problem where I work in Bracknell as it was one of those towns that were gridlocked. Some of my colleagues spent over 3 hours just getting out of the works car park one evening.

    And yes, our society is now built round the car. If I remember back over the decades we had the option to work close to home, shop close to home, have our family live close to home. Nowadays it’s changed – work is where you can get it with the reduction of large site employers, local shops have been squashed by the supermarkets and as to living close to family, forget it. House prices and the reduction in council houses have seen to that.


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