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Sneckdowns take over the streets

The recent snow made for the best sneckdown spotting weather in DC since the term first entered our lexicon. Last week we put out a call for photos of sneckdowns in the wild, and plenty of you responded. Here are some of the best.

17th and Potomac Ave, SE. Photo by Justin Antos.

In the wonky world of urbanism advocacy, sneckdowns have gone viral. The term, referring to places where snow formations show street spaces cars don’t use, first popped up in New York. Since then it’s made headlines in Philadelphia, Chicago, Vancouver, and more.

It’s true that actual engineers shouldn’t design streets solely around piled snow, but certainly sneckdowns are a handy illustration of how we give too much pavement to cars.

Here are more local examples, sent in by readers.

14th St and Independence Ave, SW. Photo by @gregbilling.

M St and Jefferson St, NW. Photo by @gregbilling.

Rhode Island Ave and R St, NW. Photo by @MaryLauran.

Rhode Island Ave and Q St, NW. Photo by @MaryLauran.

4th St, NE. Photo by @TonyTGoodman.

Fairfax Dr and 10th St N, in Arlington. Photo by @guusbosman.

Greenbelt. Photo by msickle.

Thanks to everyone who sent in photos! Keep watching #dcsneckdown on Twitter for more.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

February 18th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, roads/cars, transportation, urbandesign

Send us your sneckdown pictures

Now that’s we’ve had a big snow in DC, send us pictures of sneckdowns you spot in the wild. You can tweet them with hashtag #dcsneckdown, or email them to us at
. On Monday, Greater Greater Washington and BeyondDC will publish the best ones.

Sneckdown today in Southeast DC. Photo by Ralph Garboushian.

Sneckdowns are where snow formations show the street spaces cars don’t use.

GGW reader Ralph Garboushian sent us this one already. He describes it:

“Shoveling and plowing patterns in front of my house show how the intersection of Potomac Avenue, E Street & 18th Street SE could be made safer for both pedestrians and motorists. The current design is a disaster – I have seen several accidents at this intersection, including one that sent a car nearly into my front yard and another that took out a historic call box and nearly knocked down a utility pole. In addition, this intersection is right in front of Congressional Cemetery and on the way to the Metro and sees heavy pedestrian traffic.

The intersection’s poor design combined with motorists speeding down Potomac create a hostile and dangerous atmosphere for pedestrians. This intersection desperately needs traffic calming and these plow/shovel patterns illustrate how it could be done.”

We look forward to seeing more!

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

February 13th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, roads/cars, transportation, urbandesign

Map: How much snow does it take to cancel school?

This map shows approximately how much snow it takes to cancel school in various parts of the United States.

Map from Reddit user atrubetskoy.

On Reddit, the map’s author explains the methodology:

[It's from a] combination of a /r/SampleSize survey, City-data.com threads, NOAA maps and some other local news sources.

So while it may not be the most precise or reliable data, it’s still an interesting general look at snow closure patterns around the country.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

January 30th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, maps

To see urban wildlife in the snow, find flowing water

Despite cities’ reputation as concrete jungles, most have a healthy collection of wildlife. Birds, rodents, deer, anything that can live on the margins of human activity. But what happens to that wildlife when the city is hit with winter weather?

With temperatures consistently below freezing, and even the mighty Potomac River frozen all the way across at points, wildlife is going to be looking for drinkable water. On Saturday, I dropped by fast-flowing Rock Creek to try and spot some. I wasn’t disappointed.

A Northern Flicker (top), Starlings (bottom left), a Downy Woodpecker (bottom center), and my viewing spot near P Street Beach (bottom right).

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

January 27th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, galleries

“Sneckdowns” reveal street space cars don’t use

Every time it snows, vast sections of city streets remain covered by snow long after plows and moving cars have cleared the travel lanes. These leftover spaces are called “sneckdowns,” and they show where sidewalks or medians could replace roads without any loss to car drivers.

A DC sneckdown from the 2009 snow storm. Original photo by Rudi Riet on flickr.

The term sneckdown is a portmanteau of “snow” and “neckdown,” the latter being another term for sidewalk curb extensions. So it literally means a sidewalk extension created by snow.

Following the recent snow storm in New York, Streetsblog put out a call for photos of sneckdowns in the wild. They received plenty of responses.

Next time it snows here, be on the lookout.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

January 8th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, roads/cars, transportation, urbandesign

NASA photo shows Earth with today’s storm

NASA’s GOES satellite took this amazing picture of today’s storm at 9:45 this morning. The DC area is obscured by snow and clouds, obviously, but you can see the storm covering the whole mid-Atlantic north of Florida.

Image from NOAA/NASA GOES Project.

December 10th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment

Pictures of Sunday’s solar eclipse

When the sun rose over DC’s east horizon on Sunday morning, it was in the midst of a partial solar eclipse. The moon was passing directly between Earth and the sun, obscuring the sun as seen from Earth.

To see the event, I woke up early and set up my camera at the best easterly-facing view I could think of – the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria. Here’s what I saw:

Eclipse over Alexandria. Full set of 25 pictures is on flickr.

November 4th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, fun

See (but don’t smell) the flower of death

One of the world’s rarest and stinkiest giant flowers is blooming now at the US Botanical Gardens. But if you want to to see it, you have to act fast. It will likely wilt in just a few days.

The titan arum can reach 10 feet in height, smells like rotting dead flesh, and can go decades between blooms. When a bloom does happen, it’s a big draw at the usually-quiet botanical garden.

I went yesterday and took a few pictures. I barely noticed the smell.

July 23rd, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, galleries, parks

Lost rivers of Washington

Constitution Avenue used to be a canal, and two creeks used to flow through central DC. David Ramos produced a series of maps showing where they went.

Imagine what a different city Washington might be today if these had been kept in place.

Image from David Ramos on ImaginaryTerrain.com.

June 3rd, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment, maps

Remember what big snow storms looked like

R Street in the snow. This was not taken today.

March 6th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: environment



About BeyondDC
Archive 2003-06


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BeyondDC v. 2013d | Email | Archive of posts from 2003-2006