How snowstorms reveal clues for improving pedestrian safety
— By Tyler Falk on February 7, 2014, 1:24 PM PST
I hate neckdowns. I call them cyclist kill zones. As a bicyclist I hate anything that forces me out into traffic. And cars in a hurry during the morning commute will not give up space for a bicycle to cut into traffic. I have had to get off my bike and bring it up over the curb onto the sidewalk, walk it down past the curb extension on the other side to continue. As with many solutions to one problem, it brings up other problems.
This brings up an issue with using snow as an indicator of traffic. Bicyclists are normally not out in snow. But the theory for pedestrian traffic is sound. As Steve Waclo said, it has been used by universities to find student traffic. When the university I went to put up some new buildings they waited a semester and then created walkways over the most heavily walked areas.
Thanks for the article, Tyler!
Brings to mind a perhaps apocryphal story I heard about a challenge facing architects, when it came time to layout of sidewalks for a rather unique, multi-building campus residential complex. Options were in abundance, but they finally arrived at this solution. Don't build any sidewalks for a year after students moved in, then install sidewalks where everyone was walking . No doubt it was much more complicated than that, considering the need for drainage, lighting, snow removal, etc. but the concept is sound.
Come to think of it, maybe the story was apocryphal.
Gotta run. I feel a #sneckdown coming on.
In many town's across the globe, your local council/authority etc simple can't be bothered to spend any of their fiscally tight budgets during the winter to do anything past positively checking the boxes on their their statutory obligations they have on clearing snow on main roads/highways. Pedestrian safety is the last thing on their mind, as if someone slips it's largely 'not their fault'.
It sounds like neckdowns need to be designed with bicycles in mind, as does snow removal. Maybe a wheelchair access like opening for bicycles to ride through.
The sad reality for bicycle riders is that some climates are not conducive to riding year round.You might be hard core and want to ride in 10 degree weather, but the vast majority of riders want nothing to do with it.
So the balancing act of fiscal responsibility and providing safe riding spaces in bad weather comes down to this.
Does a community spend the money needed to modify neckdowns for bicycles when the weather in a given city only permits safe riding 9 months of the year?
Does a community spend the large amount of money required for additional snow removal and salt spreading to support the bicycle life style of a relatively small percentage of the population?
From a seasonal bicycle rider and more importantly a taxpayers perspective.I say no to spending that money.
Now if bicycle riders paid high excise taxes and registration fees like cars and motorcycles than my answer would be yes.Spend their tax dollars on it.
@Stevewaclo Great idea.