City Crowdsourcing Tool Could Help Cyclists During Snowy Commutes

The city's snow response map, a live version of which is available here. The green triangles represent clear streets and the blue squares unplowed streets.
The city's snow response map, a live version of which is ## here.## The green triangles represent clear streets and the blue squares unplowed streets.

The weather’s given New York City a lot of opportunities to experiment with new responses to snow in the wake of the post-Christmas blizzard.

One potentially exciting new tool is a city attempt to crowdsource information about which streets are and aren’t clear of snow and ice. It could be a good resource for cyclists to share information about which bike lanes are clear and which remain unusable.

For cyclists, the site isn’t perfect. There’s no way to note whether park roads and greenways are plowed, only streets. Even so, for yesterday’s snow and future storms, it could turn out to be a useful platform for gathering and distributing info.

According to the city’s website, the snow conditions map isn’t intended for residents to inform the city of unplowed streets; use 311 for that. Rather, it’s a central site for people to warn others about where they can travel.

  • Sigh.

    The community set this up back in December with an Ushahidi powered system:

    This is the perfect example of why the city needs to be more involved with the Open311 effort. Systems like this in Washington D.C. and San Francisco (and soon Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Houston, etc) are automatically integrated into the 311 system because they’re working with Open311.

    For more information, see:

  • v

    i am stealing someone else’s thought here, but this map basically says ‘we may not use this information, you need to call 311 regardless.’ so i’m not sure of the incentive to contribute. a good idea, but not a useful implementation.

  • Jeremy

    The DoS could utilize gps on the plow vehicles to track the # of plow passes each street recieves. Modern landfills use similar technology to track waste compaction and maximize capacity.

  • Fortunately, GPS on plows should be coming. Hopefully they’ll use that to record traces of the routes rather than only to check for the current location.

    “As part of its review, the city said it would make changes to more easily employ private contractors and to organize other city employees during an emergency. It would also install GPS devices in its sanitation trucks to track their whereabouts.”



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