Throwback Thursday: Winter Biking and Walking Edition

Image: Joe Cutrufo | Twitter

Here we are again. Or have we been here all along?

Groundhog Day may be a few days away, but New Yorkers are already experiencing a bit of déjà vu as they attempt to bike, walk and ride the bus several days after Winter Storm Jonas. Now that 99 percent of city streets have been plowed for car use, the Department of Sanitation will finally turn its attention to clearing bike lanes.

The past few years, slush and ice have lingered well after the initial snowfall, presenting serious obstacles for people on foot and two wheels alike. For this Throwback Thursday edition of MTR, we’re looking back at what New York City pedestrians and bicyclists have endured after storms in years past.

Just 9.8 inches fell during Winter Storm Juno in January 2015. Thankfully these Midtown crosswalks were mostly clear, and who needs a pedestrian refuge on Broadway anyway?

During February 2014, the second snowiest February in New York City recorded history, the city had difficulty keeping up with requests to clear snow and ice from sidewalks according to Streetsblog. And WNYC reported that walking on those snow- and ice-covered streets was presenting especially hazardous challenges for people needing mobility aids just trying to carry out everyday tasks:

On West Houston Street, Lou, who declined to give her last name because her children told her not to leave the house while the streets are still icy, ran into a major obstacle.

“I got to the corner, and it wasn’t cleaned and a big high mound of ice,” Lou, who uses a walker, said. “I found a very nice gentleman who helped me over it, otherwise I couldn’t have made it.”

She said she hadn’t left the house all week, but finally had to get groceries.

The bike lanes, naturally, had been left to become living ice sculptures.

After 11.4 inches fell during the February 2013 nor’easter, the Kent Avenue bike lane remained half-plowed. Because who uses a full bike lane anyway?

New York hasn’t always been this way. Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, after a major snowfall, pedestrian space seemed to be more of a priority.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

14th Street after the Great Blizzard of 1888. | Image: Wikimedia Commons

You might expect more from a city that has been ranked the nation’s most walkable and bike-friendly city, but then again, it’s not like this is Copenhagen.


What did we miss? Leave suggestions in the comments below or tweet them to us at @Tri_State

2 Comments on "Throwback Thursday: Winter Biking and Walking Edition"

  1. I will admit, we need to give the Department of Sanitation time to do major clearing and plowing.

    A huge problem, though, is that “mayor” DeBlasio refuses to keep schools closed, so that maximizes the number of people who are trying to walk and use buses immediately after snowstorms!

    It also amazes me that the City forgets how narrow some of its streets are, each year. Why can’t they use front loaders to haul away snow, instead of simply plowing snow – or, if the plow doesn’t fit – not doing anything?

    There has to be some way to hasten the snow removal. What does Canada do? Their streets are no wider than the streets in most of the city…

  2. Clark Morris | February 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm |

    If Halifax, Nova Scotia is a more typical example, most cities do as badly as New York City. Montreal and Quebec City are reported to do better.

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