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Send us your sneckdown pictures

Now that 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 [crashes] 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 BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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Tomorrow would be a better time to take a look for untouched areas. The minimal traffic and numerous closed businesses, schools, etc today don't exactly present an accurate traffic description.

For example, looking at just today, I'd assume a majority of bike lanes are not used, two-way traffic on residential streets can get by with only 1.5 lines and we need half of the sidewalk/street crossings.

by Bates res on Feb 13, 2014 2:17 pm • linkreport

Sneckdowns in the wild is a great phrase.

by Clarence on Feb 13, 2014 2:26 pm • linkreport

The little section of M Street NW between Connecticut and 18th Street was snecked down to 3 out of the 6 lanes - when I go back out after work I'll try to get a photo of that. It's yet more evidence that there's plenty of room for the cycletrack once things warm up enough for them to put down the lines.

by Peter K on Feb 13, 2014 2:30 pm • linkreport

Does this really prove anything? If you shoveled only half of a sidewalk (or a sidewalk on only one side of the street), that's probably where everyone would tend to walk. Does that mean the other part of the sidewalk isn't needed?

by Allen on Feb 13, 2014 2:58 pm • linkreport

I am with @Bates on this. No schools were in session, only about eight Metro bus routes were in service (and only with some sort of "limited service"), pedestrians were not out, not as many vehicles were attempting to park or travel the grid, etc., etc...

This would be a terrible way to gauge use for anything other than armchair planning. The timing is off.

by Transport. on Feb 13, 2014 4:28 pm • linkreport

I was going to make Allen's point. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Just because there aren't cars using a spot over a couple of days doesn't meant that road isn't needed for cars, just as having some parts of the sidewalk not used doesn't mean we can narrow sidewalks. Many bike trails aren't used because they're unpassable, but that doesn't mean we can close them.

by David C on Feb 13, 2014 8:41 pm • linkreport

At least in previous stories it had been a couple of days.

BUT, these pics are meant to be illustrative not definitive. They help people realize how much space we give away to move cars.

And knowing how many local DOTs treat ped/bike facilities as an afterthought I think snow on te road is automatically more illuminating about its need than an uncleared sidewalk or path.

by Drumz on Feb 13, 2014 8:55 pm • linkreport

BUT, these pics are meant to be illustrative not definitive. They help people realize how much space we give away to move cars

But on a day like today it's sort of ridiculous. Using today as a baseline, GW Parkway south of Alexandria doesn't need to exist because there was like two cars an hour and the trail should be converted into a cross-country ski course.

by Another Nick on Feb 13, 2014 10:04 pm • linkreport

Then just take the pics tomorrow and send them in.

by Drumz on Feb 13, 2014 10:20 pm • linkreport

Count me among those grateful that city planners don't use unshoveled and unplowed snow as metrics for how to route and how wide to make our roads. I appreciate what the article is trying to point out but it suffers from more than just a bit of over-zealousness.

by Matt on Feb 14, 2014 5:41 am • linkreport

This is a dumb idea. According to this logic, my entire street is street parking we "don't need." In reality, it's a snow emergency route that was plowed really poorly, so after all the cars were towed the plow just plowed all the snow into the parking spots so now no one can get in. They're normally full, but right now its just a mountain of snow. The snow has to go somewhere.

by Elysian on Feb 14, 2014 7:42 am • linkreport

Reposting my comment from the January 9 discussion on this topic:

Not sure it's reasonable to use snow/ice covered streets as a measure of regular traffic. When parts of a street are barely passable, a prudent driver sticks to the clear road (I know I do). Doesn't mean the unplowed, iced-over portion isn't useful for cars under more normal circumstances.

by Willow on Feb 14, 2014 8:01 am • linkreport


I guess that means every unused and completely untouched bike lane I passed today between my house and office is superflous and needs to be removed .

by Arkie on Feb 14, 2014 8:23 am • linkreport

The place I see this being most useful is a discussion of overly wide lanes (not usually an issue in DC proper) and pedestrian infrastructure around intersections where sometimes they are overly generous in allowing for wide turning radii.

by BTA on Feb 14, 2014 8:28 am • linkreport

BUT, these pics are meant to be illustrative not definitive.

Illustrative of what, though?

IF something's not plowed, people are much less likely to drive (or bike or walk) on it. So it may illustrate only what plows don't do.

Or, if a particular traffic movement is infrequent, but nonetheless used sometimes, that doesn't call for elimination of it as a possibility - and those infrequent movements may become non-existent when it's not plowed. (Even some of those posted regarding Philadelphia showed that at least some cars were making turns through the purported "sneckdowns".

At most these may help identify areas where reduction of road space could be considered without having a significant impact on traffic. But they're far from definitive.

by ah on Feb 14, 2014 9:55 am • linkreport

In some places these "sneckdowns" indicate where we could reclaim some space for pedestrians and also calm traffic and make things safer. In other cases, they don't. I agree it would be helpful if the article said that instead of "Sneckdowns are where snow formations show the street spaces cars don't use."

Clearly there are some places where the existence of a sneckdown is relevant and other places where it is not.

by MLD on Feb 14, 2014 9:59 am • linkreport

I can attest that the area in front of the curb that has not been shoveled is never used for traffic. It is simply a HUGE empty space where there is no parking. I can also attest that after a day of melting and pretty constant traffic, that snowy area and most of the rest remain unused by cars and that even with the snow-narrowed lanes, cars are getting by just fine, albeit at the speed limit (for a change). The overall point is that the lanes at this location are way too wide and the overall design of the street and intersection encourages speeding that is hazardous to both pedestrians and motorists. In terms of armchair planning, that is a good phrase, because I can literally sit in my armchair and see how difficult it is for pedestrians to navigate this intersection. I have seen numerous crashes while sitting in my armchair. One does not have to be a professional planner to see that drivers go too fast through this intersection and that pedestrians have difficulty navigating it. Crashes at this intersection are so common that when a burglar smashed our front window last year, I just assumed the noise (which was remarkably loud) was another car crash. As for leaving everything to the professional planners, that approach assumes that they are not overworked, that they give all street users equal consideration and that they are on top of every problem intersection in the city.

by rg on Feb 14, 2014 10:05 am • linkreport

Also, the person who wrote this post IS a professional planner...

by rg on Feb 14, 2014 10:09 am • linkreport

At most these may help identify areas where reduction of road space could be considered without having a significant impact on traffic. But they're far from definitive.

I thought that was exactly my point.

by drumz on Feb 14, 2014 10:19 am • linkreport

Everyone is thinking about this as a means of finding on-street space that is not being used for moving vehicles and which could be re-purposed for pedestrians or other things.

But another opportunity is to look for on-street parking spaces that are not being utilized by residents.

I walked past the 5200 and 5300 blocks of 43rd Street NW this morning which are half a block east of Wisconsin Avenue in Friendship Heights and are 2 blocks that under normal circumstances are parked up at 110% and there were 6 total cars parked on the street between 2 blocks.

Which points up the fact that in fact there are excess on street spaces even in a dense commercial area like FH.

Or maybe all of the residents drove somewhere warm this week.

by TomQ on Feb 14, 2014 11:07 am • linkreport

yes, lets focus on new fantasy social media words like sneckdown isntead of something useful -- like getting sidewalks and intersections cleaned up.

by charlie on Feb 14, 2014 11:25 am • linkreport

Coming home on Metro yesterday, nearly all the crossovers were still buried in snow, as well as the nothern end of the Silver Spring pocket track. I guess this is unneeded space too?

by A.P. on Feb 15, 2014 7:36 am • linkreport

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