Over the weekend, Winter Storm Jonas hit the East Coast, dumping several feet of snow on cities, especially impacting Washington, D.C.; New York; Philadelphia; and Baltimore. The blizzard affected many of the region’s transportation modes: canceling flights, shutting down subway systems, and slowing car traffic. In doing so, Jonas offered an opportunity to rethink urban transportation.

The natural path of snowplows creates “sneckdowns,” or curb extensions, in city streets. These sneckdowns extend sidewalks further into the street, removing space for cars and giving it to pedestrians. This tightens corners at intersections, forcing cars to make turns that are closer to right angles, which results in the drivers slowing down their vehicles to maneuver the snow piles. Sneckdowns thus minimize traffic speed and improve pedestrian safety, which is a growing concern for cities.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends using objects like bollards and planters to temporarily and inexpensively alter the shape of the street, to achieve the same effect as the sneckdowns.

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