Darren Proulx (a Prairie boy and SFU Urban Studies student) uses a clever way of assessing the actual amount of road space needed for vehicles and what can be safely used for other needs.

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Snow can show the desire lines of drivers, and essentially how much of the road space is actually being used by automobiles.

As a result of past planning philosophy, our cities have been designed to accommodate almost solely the automobile and moving them as quickly through our cities regardless of the needs people and other mobility options. Street calming makes it safer by slowing down traffic for those already walking/cycling or using transit, and encourages more to switch from driving.

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He then uses shots of West End streets after a snowfall to make his case.

This snow pocket on Denman St. is interesting especially given how over built the automobile infrastructure is in this entire area and how narrow the sidewalks are.

snow 1

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This one is fascinating, drivers are not using the triangle at this traffic circle.  This space could be transformed into a nice pedestrian island.

snow 2

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There were many examples were a curb extension could be installed to minimize the crossing distance for pedestrians.  In many of these cases curb extensions can also prevent through traffic in the parking lane.

snow 3

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Lots more images and posts on Darren’s blog here.

Comments

  1. Kudos to Darren for applying the principle in Vancouver, and I certainly agree there are many places where traffic calming and other pedestrian improvements could be added.

    But credit where it’s due: the idea was popularized by Streetfilms (I don’t know where they got it from but I think it was in New York). They even came up with a portmanteau for the concept: sneckdown.

    http://www.streetfilms.org/street-lessons-from-a-blizzard/

  2. fantastic! I’ve always focused on the “sneckdowns” (a great hashtag to search for on instagram) which occur on sidewalks and reveal how we are affected by the narrow spaces – but the the inverse is revealed here and its wonderful.

  3. Thank you for the repost Gordon!

    Agustin, absolutely I do not deserve credit for initially coming up with the concept as I clearly stated in the article!

  4. This is really great and insightful…

    2 things to consider;

    First, snow on the road means that vehicles are travelling at slower speeds. Unused space can change as vehicles travel faster and turning radii increase.

    Second, we can’t forget about access for emergency vehicles (think fire truck) or even the light trucks that deliver goods throughout the city, both of which need far greater space to maneuver.

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