Tag Archives | Hurricane

Gaia in a Knockout

Correspondent Rick Browning, recently back from Japan, is now in South Florida helping his mother recover from Hurricane Wilma.

Gaia has literally as well as figuratively clouted the car! Trees smash cars! See photos.

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Post-Wilma portlandtransport’s Post-Wilma photoset

Correspondent Rick Browning, recently back from Japan, is now in South Florida helping his mother recover from Hurricane Wilma.

Gaia has literally as well as figuratively clouted the car! Trees smash cars! See photos.

S. Florida culture and “city” planning (no real city here) is MY CAR = MY LIFE. You can go nowhere, you can do nothing, you are nobody without your car. Woke up at 5 this morning and thought I could run over and get gas at nearby station “beating the crowd”…. Oh no, was I ever dreaming.

Line in the 5 AM dark already 1/4 mile long and growing fast, police to prevent fistfights. People had slept in their cars. No lights, no engines running, conserve that precious stuff in the tank. Long dark line in the dark – a static funeral procession for the Age of Oil. This is civilization in meltdown. Everyone is waiting 5 hours or more for gas.

Must have it, no matter what. [Note this was 3 days ago – lines are much shorter now, but many stations still closed]

I find that in S. Florida the very non-rectilinear and very non-connected layout of suburbs has made the disaster worse. Because many suburbs are mazes with few points of connection to primary street systems much additional driving must be done in a post-Wilma environment where gas is in short supply. Also, the length of drive distance is increased, using more gas and time and creating more traffic jams. Finally, trees and other storm debris can bottle up an entire suburban enclave by blocking a single roadway in or out.

A non-rectilinear system of roads with many points of connection, such as may be found in Japan would probably function OK, but this post-storm situation certainly suggests that rectilinear grids with many connection points are perhaps best in a wide scale disaster.

For same reason, you often have to drive literally miles of indirect travel to get home. When you have to wait in line 5 hours for gas (and you better hope the police are there to maintain order) driving the extra miles hurts bad. Not to mention the 10 miles for groceries, the 20 miles to your job, the 15 miles to school… on and on and no gas.

Also seeing “chaos theory” traffic control in action. Most intersections still have no signals, we are talking 4 lanes w/dual turn pockets on all 4 legs folks. It is working – maybe better than you would expect – but each trip is an endless stop and go misery with long lines at major intersections and many, many idling engines

So once again – the car culture and what it has spawned looks pretty stupid right now. Gaia one, S. Florida zero. Never travel without your bike (but I did, alas). Maybe in 2030 it will look like this everyday?

This Portlander wants to go home.