Here Are The Official Winter Rules (With Observations)

Last year I posted a highly popular list of winter driving rules. I was at the end of my rope after a long winter. This year I’m getting ahead of the curve for my own sanity. You have all had at least two practice snowfalls to get your act together. The official rules take effect with the setting of the sun today. There will be no more practice rounds, penalties will be enforced from here on out.

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Portholes are not acceptable window openings. Unless your house is on fire and you’re trying to save the car, you have time to scrape your windows. This includes removing the snow from your head and tail lights as well as the hood and roof. If you used a credit card to clear a hole you are in violation.

Streets are slippery. You need to leave a little extra room between you and the car in front of you. This goes double for turning at intersections: nobody to blame but yourself if you slide out of control because you’re going too fast.

Pedestrians who walk down the middle of the road because the sidewalk is not yet shoveled will be run down at driver’s discretion. This applies particularly to hipsters dressed in all black at night.

Homeowners who do not shovel their sidewalk need to hire someone to do so. Just because you go in and out of the garage in the alley, it does not relieve you of the burden of cleaning the sidewalk in front of your house. Corner lot owners, you knew it was there when you bought the place: quit whining, shovel and salt that thing now.

Bicyclists who insist on riding in the snow and slush need to obey all of the laws. Your slipping in between cars or hogging lanes at 2.5 miles per hour because it’s deep snow, are not acceptable. Move with the flow or take a cab. You endanger everyone around you when you can’t control your vehicle and maintain traffic flow.

You. Yes, the idiot in the bright gray vehicle with your lights off at twilight, during the snow, or at night: turn on your lights. That moving hazard you’re piloting is practically invisible to the rest of us.

If you are driving like an escaped prisoner because everyone else is going too slowly on the slick road, remember that you might go faster, but you’re not going to stop any more quickly. Chill and behave like an adult.

If you’re terrified about driving in the snow, I’d like to remind you that it’s not acceptable to go 8 mph in the left lane because there are snow flurries. I pointed out earlier, practice snows are over. Drive like the rest of us or go to and get a ticket to a warmer climate. Do not return until June.

If you are a municipal leader, this one’s for you: have your crews plow curb-to-curb. Likewise, shovel and salt the sidewalks in front of your municipal buildings. It is only beginning, yet I see that we’ve lost over a foot on Hennepin Avenue thus far. For those of you in Atlanta, that’s a major artery. It is not some twisty little country road that is hard to gauge where the curbing is after a snowfall. Straight as a ruler for miles. So, no excuse for running four lane roads down to 2.3 lane roads over the winter. Plow properly.

Private homeowners: learn space management now. If you shovel/plow your sidewalks and driveways “almost” to the edge, you are as big a loser as the city crews that throw in the towel in November. Go wide now, you’ll appreciate it in February. Push the snow back at least a foot from the edge while you have a chance. It’s easy to keep up with if you try. If you don’ try, you’ll be butted up against the edges in a cruel manner, with a sidewalk 10 inches wide and a parking space so small you can’t open your doors. Use the room you have and keep it. Plan ahead. Etc.

Your dog still poops in winter. Yes, hard to believe. So when you walk past my house, pick up little Fido’s droppings. Because if you don’t, I’ll deliver them via wrist-rocket to your front door. Frozen poo can go at least 300 feet per second when I’m operating the device. And it’s loud. Please be kind and avoid brown marks on your stucco.

Suede boots will look terrible the minute you wear them in real snow. Save them for fall and spring wear. Please do not bemoan the salt on your boots in my presence.

The line at the store/deli/restaurant will occasionally extend out the door. In winter, it is impolite to wedge your carcass in said door and make sure the whole place ventilates to the ambient temperature of Minnesota, -15 degrees. Either in, or out. You can handle it, cupcake. But shut that door.

Try stomping your feet at the door. Do others a favor; do not track snow 50 feet into the lobby. That black thingy on the floor? It’s for wiping your feet. You may enjoy the experience.

Just because the white lines are impossible to see in parking lots, it does not mean that you leave 6 feet between your car and the next car over. Memory skills are crucial to survival. Try using yours. A good rule of thumb is full opening of the driver’s door plus 6 inches. Any more than that and you’re officially a sociopath unless it’s a handicap space. Likewise for angle parking when the rest are perpendicular. There is a special place in Hades for your ilk.

Additional rules may be forthcoming. In the meantime, if you begin to lose control of your vehicle while driving, “Aim for something cheap.”

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