What the sneck?
Taking advantage of the recent snow blanketing the region, Bike Walk RVA intern Olivia Mobayed set out to investigate travel patterns at intersections. See what she found out below!
While a new batch of snow can make getting around a bit trickier in the short run, snow can be very helpful in long-term planning and design changes. Have you ever noticed snow-covered sections of intersections, existing even once people driving, biking, and walking have started to make their mark? Those snow-covered patches are called “Sneckdowns” or “Snowy neckdowns” and they highlight unused road space in order to show planners and road engineers areas where improvements are possible by giving people who use sidewalks and bike lanes better places to walk or bike without taking up space used by cars.
After the snow we got on Monday night, we decided that we had a great opportunity to see where sneckdowns existed in Richmond. The intersection of Forest Hill Avenue, Semmes Avenue, and Dundee Avenue is a messy intersection, and showed quite a bit of potential according to the sneckdowns on Wednesday morning.
Once I arrived at the intersection to take pictures, I tried to cross Forest Hill Avenue to get a different view. Five minutes after pushing the pedestrian cross request button, I decided that I would have to cross on my own. Luckily, I walked across the street quite quickly, since the width of the street had been so narrow. In fact, as I started taking pictures from the other corner, I looked down at my feet in the snow and realized that I was standing in the road: past the curb and even the crosswalks! I had not felt unsafe– no wheel marks had been left in the snowy area, but this was part of the road usually reserved for cars!
Unlike complicated computer models and traffic studies that may not correctly predict the real-life movements, sneckdowns show the natural, safest, and most direct paths. I would have never guessed that much of the area I considered walking space was usually reserved for cars that did not even use it, what a waste! Hopefully we can use this great information to make improvements on this intersection and others in the city that might have some valuable unused space.