Pedestrian Chronicles: Finding Public Spaces in the Snow
New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians are putting the polar vortex to green use.
Today, since Josh is busy working on a feature for the magazine, I’m hijacking Pedestrian Chronicles (and maybe a little bit of Erica's On Other Blogs Today column as well.)
Earlier this month over at This Old City, blogger Jon Geeting in Philadelphia wrote about using day-old snow to find spaces untouched by cars that could be used for public spaces: bike lanes, traffic islands, parklets. These snowy banks even have a name—sneckdowns, a combo of snow and the city planning term for curb extensions at intersections to give pedestrians a larger, safer walking space...neckdowns.
Finding sneckdowns (snow+neckdowns) is simple. After the snow has settled and people are back to driving around, head outside and check out the streets. Wherever there’s snow in the street that is untouched by cars, you’ve found a sneckdown. This is a spot where cars clearly aren’t driving much (or at all) and the space could be put to better and greener use with a bike lane, or mini-park, or a curb bulb for pedestrian safeway.
Sadly, we in Seattle can’t accomplish the same thing with rain, but I, for one, am very glad not to be in the midst of polar-vortex insanity. It's inspiring, though, to see that in the middle of terrible weather caused by climate change, people are using the classic Al Gore disaster-can-become-opportunity attitude to seek out green spaces and better use of city property.