Even in New York City, Safe Street Crossings Are Secondary to Making Sure the Roads are Clear

Photo: Joseph Cutrufo/TSTC

Winter Storm Jonas swept through New York City over the weekend, leaving more than two feet of snow. The city’s streets, which were shut down until 7 a.m. Sunday, have been plowed (though not everywhere) and subway service is mostly back to normal. But if you, like most New Yorkers, have to cross the street as part of your daily routine, you might have experienced some difficulty this morning.

One would expect that in a city where walking and public transit are dominant modes of transport, and where the majority of households do not own a vehicle, that clearing snow from crosswalks, curb ramps and bus stops would be a top priority after a major snow storm. But from what we’ve seen on the streets and in social media, there are still plenty of street crossings that are partially or completely blocked.

Perhaps there’s confusion about who is responsible for clearing corners: the Department of Sanitation? NYC DOT? Or could it be adjacent property owners?

So some took it upon themselves to dig out some crosswalks.

Others felt clearing crosswalks is consistent with Vision Zero, and that a shift in priorities is in order given that walking — not driving — is the city’s dominant mode.

It’s not just the crosswalks and curb ramps that aren’t cleared: it’s also the bus stops.

Where to put all the snow? On the Brian Lehrer Show this morning, Mayor de Blasio said put it on the sidewalk.

And definitely not on the street, says the NYPD.

Of course it costs money to clear crosswalks and curb ramps. But it might cost even more not to.

3 Comments on "Even in New York City, Safe Street Crossings Are Secondary to Making Sure the Roads are Clear"

  1. The Sunday morning press conference by DeBlasio reinforced that message.
    He told car owners that they were suspending alternate side of the street parking and please don’t dump the snow from your car.
    He told pedestrians that they shouldn’t be walking in the street, despite the uncleared sidewalks, since they were putting themselves in danger.
    No admonition that motorists should slow the hell down and look out for pedestrians in the street since only the streets get cleared effectively.

  2. More clueless comments from our mayor. Be careful “IF you walk outside” as though that were an option. “Don’t walk in the street” as though there were anywhere else to walk.

    And, suspending ASP does not aid snow cleanup, it prevents it. Plows could reduce the size of corner piles by reducing plow angle at intersections. It’s important to clear roadways for emergency response but we could keep the private car ban in place longer while prioritizing clear walkways.

  3. AMH: most alternate side parkers double park their cars during the cleaning times. There is just no other way to deal with all the cars that are required to move. This can’t happen until there is sufficient melt to allow vehicles to still pass. Especially since Sanitation trucks are way too busy these days driving around with their plows in the air to actually capitalize on freed up curb space.

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