Eyes on the Street: How Snow Makes the Case for Traffic Calming

See those snowy spots in the road? Perfect opportunity for permanent traffic-calming curb extensions. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
Those snowy spots in the road? Perfect opportunity for traffic-calming curb extensions. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Streetsblog asked and you delivered. Earlier we sent out a call for photos of snowy streets where drivers or plows had cleared a path while leaving much of the remaining the asphalt untouched. It’s an easy way to visualize the opportunities for permanent sidewalk extensions like like neckdowns and bulb-outs — but you have to snap a photo before it melts.

In addition to the submissions from New York, the #sneckdown hashtag traveled across the country (much of which is covered in snow at the moment) and even attracted attention from England and Sweden. Here are a few of our favorites from right here at home.

Perhaps the photo that best illustrates the sneckdown idea comes from Jackson Heights, above, snapped by Streetfilms’ own Clarence Eckerson Jr. — who, by the way, created the definitive videos about nature’s traffic calming. If you haven’t watched them already, check it out.

21st Street and 40th Avenue in Long Island City. Photo: Lisa Soverino/Instagram
21st Street and 40th Avenue in Long Island City. Photo: Lisa Soverino/Instagram

Lisa Soverino sent over this photo of 21st Street at 40th Avenue in Queens, where advocates are working with Community Board 1 on getting DOT to study 21st Street for a traffic-calming plan — but built with concrete instead of snow.

Photo: Mark Levine

Reader Joanna Oltman Smith noticed that this photo by incoming City Council Member Mark Levine captured a nice big sneckdown at 157th and Broadway.

Varick and Clarson Streets. Photo: BrooklynSpoke/Twitter
Varick and Clarson Streets. Photo: BrooklynSpoke/Twitter

Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke took a photo from above at Varick and Clarkson Streets, showing large parts of that intersection could be turned over to pedestrians without even taking away useful space from drivers.

We also asked if you’ve seen the city’s protected bike lanes get the same treatment attention from plowing crews as the car lanes have. So far, it seems DOT has cleared the East River bridge paths, and the Department of Sanitation has plowed the Eighth Avenue, Ninth Avenue and Broadway bike lanes.

But things look a lot bleaker on Prospect Park West. Temperatures aren’t expected to rise above freezing anytime soon, so crews still have some time to clear it out before things get icy:

While some protected bike lanes have been cleared, the Prospect Park West bike lane remains covered in snow. Photo: Alex Knight/Twitter
While some protected bike lanes have been cleared, the PPW bike lane remains snowed-in. Photo: Alex Knight/Twitter


Sneckdowns: Taking the World by Storm

The #sneckdown is now a phenomenon, with nature’s traffic-calming gaining international media coverage and photos popping up from across the U.S. and Canada. “The snow is almost like nature’s tracing paper,” Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson told the BBC. “It’s free. You don’t have to do a crazy expensive traffic calming study. It provides a visual cue […]

We’re Talkin’ Sneckdown

New York City was spared the brunt of winter storm Juno, and with streets in better shape than expected, there are already enough photos out there for our inaugural #sneckdown round-up of the season. A portmanteau of “snow” and “neckdown,” a sneckdown occurs when driving patterns delineated in snow reveal excess street space that might be […]

Sneckdown Fever!

With more than two feet of snow expected to accumulate on NYC streets in the next couple of days, this city is about to get blanketed by nature’s traffic calming. Sneckdown fever won’t be far behind. To get things started, we’re reposting the classic 2011 Streetfilm that introduced the phrase “snowy neckdown,” a concept that […]

Sneckdowns 4: Ain’t Snow Stoppin’ Us Now

Since our last round-up, the sneckdown has drawn attention from publications as varied as The Economist, The Week, Fast Company, Village Voice, Atlantic Cities, and Treehugger. With coverage and photos piling up like so much traffic-calming slush, sneckdown emissary and archivist Clarence Eckerson posted a detailed explainer, dating the concept back to the 1990s. Meanwhile, the city […]

Who’s Up for Sneckdowns?

With Blizzard Mania ’16 reaching a fever pitch up and down the Eastern Seaboard, it looks like we’re in for the first serious sneckdowns of the season. For the uninitiated, sneckdowns are neckdowns created by driving patterns in melting snow or slush. Sneckdowns highlight excess asphalt that could be repurposed for streetscape improvements to slow motor vehicle […]

Eyes on the Street: Vernon Boulevard Gets Bike Lane Barriers

Biking in western Queens is getting a welcome upgrade. The two-way bike lane on Vernon Boulevard has not had any type of protection from traffic since it was installed in 2013. The lane was frequently obstructed by drivers who used it as a parking spot. Now, DOT is installing barriers along the bikeway to keep cars out. The project received the most […]