Agenda setting: snow clearance in the walking-biking-transit city
GGW has an entry ("Joseph Brown died trying to avoid a snow-covered path, and DC blamed him for it") about the death of a person who, unable to walk on the sidewalk because it was full of snow cleared from the roadway, was crossing Sousa Bridge while walking in the roadway, and he was hit and killed by a car. Technically, he was at fault for walking in the roadway.
This kind of event happens every year during major snows. People walk in the street because sidewalks, especially those under direct responsiblity of public agencies, aren't cleared. And some die.
I don't understand why there isn't a greater attention to creating what I call a "maintenance of way" agenda in the walking-biking-transit city that supports winter-time mobility as well as fair-weather mobility.
In response to recent snows, there are some letters in the Post about this ("Area government’s snow hypocrisy") and Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer has proposed better snow clearance practices for the Silver Spring and Wheaton Urban Districts, based on practices in Bethesda ("Riemer wants to look at snow removal in Silver Spring," Gazette).
This is the agenda I came up with in 2010 (note that #7 has been added with this update, and old points #7 and #8 have been re-ordered):
Proposed agenda for snow removal policies that support walking, transit, and bicycling, in a city where upwards of 40% of households do not have cars, and where as much as 51% of trips to work are captured by walking, bicycling, and transit:
1. The city needs to develop a plan for "maintenance of way" so that citizens can get to schools, libraries, transit stops, transit stations, and local commercial districts, regardless of snow conditions. This is especially necessary for the one mile radius areas around subway and train stations.
2. And the city needs to adopt specific policies and practices with regard to snow removal from the sidewalks of city properties. Too often, snow is inadequately removed from the sidewalks of city properties such as parks, libraries, and schools. The city government itself should set the standard for preferred practices on snow removal.
3. And the city needs to adopt specific policies and practices with regard to snow removal from bus stops as well as from bicycle trails that are also used for transportational purposes.
4. And the City needs to work out an agreement with the National Park Service for snow removal on NPS parcels (park space and other land reservations) that have sidewalks and are integrated into the city's urban fabric.
5. To maintain the economic vitality of the Downtown, which is the primary economic generator within the city in terms of tax revenue generation and maintains the city's place as a key center within the regional economy, the city needs to have a plan to deal with snow removal needs there, and in the other major employment centers in the city.
6. The city needs to prioritize snow removal on bus routes, so that even if the aboveground transit stations are closed, WMATA could still run, safely, bus service on most of the routes. (Some routes, such as the G8, which goes up a big hill on Eastern Ave., likely would have issues.)
7. The city needs to be sure that alley residential communities are not ignored when it comes to snow removal. While the city does not normally provide snow clearance service to alleys, this practice should be applied differentially, depending on whether or not there are domiciles.
8. Overall, this means that the city government needs to do a better job in terms of maintaining and provisioning equipment, and addressing the needs as they arise.
9. Furthermore, WMATA needs to develop a better program for maintaining bus service in high snow situations, and providing "" bus service connecting closed above-ground transit stations to the working underground system.
Even when it snows, in a transit city, people should not be denied transit.
The City of Fairbanks, Alaska just got a new sidewalk plow, according to the Fairbanks News-Miner newspaper.
DDOT has a piece of equipment about this size for bike trails.
Alley communities. Separately I have written about servicing alley housing, which often might require smaller equipment--such as smaller fire trucks and garbage trucks. (DC does have a set of smaller garbage trucks, but I haven't seen alley sized fire trucks.)
Note that it has been reported to me that the city is also remiss in often not doing snow removal in alley communities. The need to address this has been added to the overall agenda.
Photos: Gessford Court SE via Facebook.
It's not just a matter of self-organizing I don't think, because there is still the issue of clearing snow from the section between the alley and the outside streets.
I didn't take photos, but over the weekend in Moorefield, West Virginia, in the small commercial district which is also the county seat, they were shoveling the snow into the street, picking it up with front loaders, depositing it into dump trucks, and removing the snow from the area altogether.
Labels: car culture and automobility, neighborhood-based transportation planning, provision of public services, public space management, snow removal, transit, transportation planning, urban design/placemaking