Snow Day

This week, we were part of the 40 million Americans under the shadow of Storm Stella. We were also the select few to actually see the snow fall from this storm. Even though it is March, and just days from the official start of spring, this was or first real dropping of snow.

Many of you have written or shared images showing how snow covered streets illustrate what we really need for lane widths, and where we should advocate for curb extension or road diets. The phase "Sneckdown" has been coined and fills all of my news feeds at the first talk of snow every year. These are powerful images that show that we have a real addiction to asphalt, and snow provides an excuse to call in an intervention.

Can Snow Inspire Better Streets? It Already Has.

Sneckdown: Using snow to design safer streets

Stealth road diets: The evolution of the “sneckdown”

These images and stories are all auto-centric. The root of the story/observations is focused on the car and how the driver behaves. Its all about controlling the car, and assumes that every community has sidewalks. This is only half of the story, and only demands the reduction of pavement.

This snow storm, I noticed something completely different: the lack of pavement. Following the storm, my neighbors began to shovel the snow off their sidewalks. The well prepared, cranked up their snow throwers and got straight to work. They followed behind the thrower down the width of the sidewalk running parallel to the street. They all held true to the path and went everywhere there should be a sidewalk. Yes, they removed snow off of the grass where there should be a sidewalk.

Sidewalk placement is not really rocket science. The formula is simple:

  1. Locate the building or property line
  2. Locate the street or curb
  3. Place sidewalk between the two

As you can see, the guidelines for the sidewalk placement in this case was easy because of the parked cars. Yes, that is green grass where there should be a sidewalk. Everyone but the City Planner or City Engineer thought that this was the right place for a sidewalks.

The good news, is once the snow melts, there is the opportunity to add more pavement here.