Lalley: Confessions of a Sioux Falls C.A.R. driver — 'Complaining About Roads'

A few slippery roads presents temptation to fall into chronic complaining.

Closeup of car tires in winter on the road
Closeup of car tires in winter on the road covered with snow
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SIOUX FALLS — The few inches of snow that fell on the metro this week, plus what appears to be days on end of wind and cold, felt like a switch flipper.

Yes, it’s the arrival of C.A.R. season.

Not the one you drive, though that’s certainly part of it.

No, this is “Complaining About the Roads.”

First, a bit of background. More specifically, something of a clarification, what some might call a confession.


I’ve been critical — at times harshly so — of Sioux Fallsians who constantly complain about the condition of the streets.

Any public servant roaming City Hall will tell you that roads — where they are, where they should be and any perceived lack of maintenance thereof — is the topic that citizens want to talk about most.

Entire mayoral elections have been won and lost on potholes.

Which, for my money, shackles our ability to have meaningful conversations about how the city is best planned and built for the long term. We continue to follow the post-WWII blueprint of concentric ring development predicated on the fundamental belief that the automobile is required for each and every instance of transportation.

It doesn’t matter that this model of continual entropy of suburban outflow has proven problematic for at least 50 years.

It’s just what we do.

But that’s a deeper discussion for another day and, I will admit, a bit of a diversion from the confession part of this program.

Here it is.


In a dark moment this week, whilst running some errands … driving … by myself … in my crossover SUV thing … I started complaining.

About the roads.

The issue at hand was the restrained use of snowplows by the city. The main thoroughfares and some bigger arterials got a pass from the plows, but that was it.

Side streets were left to the natural progression of things, which meant that once packed down by traffic, a clear sheen of ice developed. That was followed by some sand and chemical treatment of selected intersections, but many areas remain quite slick.

I briefly considered a strongly worded email to the mayor’s office or a social media plea for public unrest.

That’s when I realized my guilt.

I was C.A.R.-ing.

It was a couple inches of snow, after all, not ‘Winter Storm Archibald,” or whatever name will get dropped on the first real blast we will no doubt face in coming months.


Put the big boy pants on and quit your whining, I told myself.

Why am I driving all over town anyway when I could — should — be riding my fat tire bike? All the gear is sitting in the garage, just waiting to be put to its intended purpose. Just go use it.

It is kind of windy though.

And cold.

Tomorrow looks better.

Slow down and be safe everybody.

Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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