Hello all. As many of you know, I live in Madison, Wisconsin, which means the winters are long and frequently bring lots of snow. That’s fine. I’ve lived in New England and Minnesota, so I know how to handle snow. I enjoy snowball fights, love to watch snow falling, and have multiple pairs of long underwear. I also expect northern municipalities to deal with snow efficiently. This has not been the case so far that I’ve lived in Madison.

I understand from living in the upper Midwest that its inhabitants are “hardcore” about snow. Of course you are. Every winter brings at least a few feet in snow, and often the temperature doesn’t rise above freezing for weeks at a time. That’s part of the deal. I don’t believe, however, that most of the roads should remain covered in snow and ice for most of the time. I don’t believe that most people should have to own a pick-up truck or SUV in order to get around in the winter. I do believe that northern municipalities should deal with the snow and provide safe conditions for traveling.

Currently, Madison is about thirteen inches of snow ahead of the average precipitation accumulation for winter. It has snowed measurable amounts of precipitation in about ten of the last fourteen days. Compared to the last several years, it’s a little unusual, but it’s Wisconsin, so anything can happen. Even with the unusual amount of fallen snow, I expect Madison to clear roads in a timely manner. The first considerable snowfall resulted in about 6-8 inches on a Saturday, and I didn’t see a truck plowing my road (a four lane thorough-fare off the main road in town) for three days. One of my neighbors swore to me that she saw one plow on the second day. Big whoop.

I fully understand not wanting to salt the roads as it will have negative effects on the environment. Yet, I do not understand not plowing the roads or dropping some sand on it to ensure that people can drive to their jobs without endangering the lives of others. Pour the sand on, baby. Make the roads a fucking beach. I want to pretend I’m walking on the boardwalk in Belmar. Am I spoiled because I think snow removal should occur in a timely and EFFECTIVE manner? That cars with less than a foot clearance should be able to traverse side streets? Maybe. Maybe I grew up in Connecticut, where a lot of towns are not operating within a strict budget, and have plenty of money to clear the streets. But should that be a luxury of states with high taxes? Clearly I don’t think so.

I should add that I live about a mile from work, so I almost always walk into lab. If the weather permits, I drive on the weekends, but I usually follow that by running errands so I don’t feel bad about driving my car. This argument doesn’t stem from my anger in not being able to get to work. I don’t absolutely need a car. Rather, my irritation originates from my experience in other places where traveling is not impeded by ice-ridden roads. I really have a hard time believing that plows can’t lift off a lot of the ice, snow and slush that covers the roads.

I know you’re going to say “there’s only so much money” and that money should be used for education and helping the elderly or some other altruistic notion. Sigh. Yes, of course you’re right, you bombastic liberal idealist. How am I going to argue with that? The only thing I can say is that people need to get to their jobs, and that cuts across all socioeconomic classes. So, plow the fucking roads.

Thoughts? Am I wrong? Am I spoiled with my east coast notions of snow removal? (I have to add that one of my good friends from Michigan totally agreed with me…so I know I’m not crazy)

Also, don’t get me started on the cyclists who enjoy riding on the snowy roads. I’m going to save that for another post.