Snow as natural traffic calming

December 17, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I recently watched the below video from Streetfilms. If you’ve never watched any of the videos, please do! I could sit and watch them all day. I think it was some Streetfilms videos that actually got me interested in some aspects of urban planning.

This one from Clarence shows us the silver lining of piles of snow: natural traffic calming. Watch through the video (from about 2 years ago) and look at the traffic calming the piles of snow provides.

Doug Gordon at Brooklyn Spoke also tweeted a photo of “desire paths” taken by cars, which show that a ton of pavement goes unused by drivers when exiting this particular intersection:

And another great example:

The untouched snow hasn’t been driven over by many people at all, so do we even need the pavement? Its only purpose seems to be to enable faster turns.

Since snow started falling over the past few weeks in areas all over the country, take the opportunity to snap some photos/videos when you see good examples of snow traffic calming. I’ll be collecting my own to show that it is possible to implement traffic calming without inconveniencing drivers, simultaneously making the street safer for everyone else.

Here is one example at Malden and Wilson in my neighborhood:

And here is one example taken at Canal and Adams, near Union Station, where the southeast corner of the sidewalk is about 6′ wide (despite tons of foot traffic), forcing some to stand in the street since there is no room at the curb. The curb could clearly easily be extended to make more sidewalk room:


If you have your own pictures, please upload some in the comments below (you can attach photos to comments), or share a link to your photos and videos if you take any! I hope to use many more of these types of photos in materials that will be useful in demonstrating the utility of traffic calming measures.