Prudent planner ideas based on the Winter of 2014



Given the truly delightful winter we have been suffering through this year, I thought it might be a good idea to list off some suggestions for us planners to consider for addressing potential future winter mayhem.

You can never be too prepared for emergencies. Additional ideas and suggestions are always welcome!

  • Have pre-designated and pre-stocked emergency warming shelters that can be activated on very short notice.
  • Require bus stops to be cleared so passengers don’t have to walk across slippery mounds of compacted snow and potentially fall into the roadway.
  • Increase the number of transit shelters to enhance the rider’s experience in winter.
  • Require all power lines to be placed in underground conduits.
  • Install or encourage the planting of vegetative buffers along open stretches of road to reduce blowing and drifting of snow across roadways.
  • Require bike lanes to be plowed so they are clear too – don’t use them for storage of snow.
  • Install homing beacons or markers on all fire plugs so they are easier to locate when they are buried under snow.
  • Establish a mid-winter edition of Smart Commute Week for snow-shoeing, snowboarding, skating, fat tire cycling, and/or x-country skiing to/from work – this will help increase exercise and reduce cabin fever.
  • Actively pursue regulations which promote more passive solar elements into building design.
  • Require and insist on building redundancy in the electrical grid.
  • Establish snow disposal areas to help improve visibility around monstrous piles of snow  – this has been a real problem along residential streets and in parking lots.
  • Revise pertinent regulations so that back-up generators can be easily incorporated into new and existing structures.
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10 Responses to Prudent planner ideas based on the Winter of 2014

  1. larryhogue says:

    What do you mean, “suffering”? It has been delightful, except for the ice storm and the 30-below windchill days. I like your snow removal suggestions. Here’s another one: require someone, whether it’s the city or the adjacent property owner, to clear out curb cuts at corners. Half of them turn into two- or three-foot-high walls of plowed snow, even if the sidewalks leading up to them have been cleared.


  2. Here in now-rainy Chicago, I’ve thought about some of these too.
    1. The snow in curb cuts as well as the ridges of plowed snow along the street sides must be shoveled away, but there are many problems with puddles here, as well as puddles where alleys meet streets. No on has been creating & maintaining drainage channels to the storm drains in the street, which in many cities are covered with plowed snow. Maybe the locations of these drains should be marked on the adjacent sidewalks, which are supposed to be kept shoveled?
    2. Snow disposal areas has been a necessity since dumping it into bodies of water was outlawed. These should be included in plans for new developments too, keeping in mind the most efficient movements of the snowplow to be used. Landscaping and semi-permeable pavement should be thought of in these plans, too.
    3. I’ve just started to think that places for backup generators should be thought of in connection with design of new housing construction.
    4. Bus stops need to be shoveled in all places where passengers might be let off. Last week I asked this to be done outside McCormick Place, as Auto Show attendees were getting off 2 buses lined up, but except for where the bus shelter is, we had to walk in the gutter to the crossing, since there was deep snow on the sidewalk next to most of the distance next to the buses.


  3. chris m says:

    Living and working in downtown San Diego; I was going to offer some silly comments but I’ll just keep quiet and read with interest how you folks are dealing with this difficult winter.


  4. All of the snow shoveling ideas are great, however, I am wondering whether any of you have ever attempted this feat. This is hard work that takes a great deal of time and requires a relatively fit individual to accomplish. With municipal budgets cut to the bone, where are the workers who can do this type of back-breaking manual labor? I cleared 4 catch basins in my neighborhood this morning. At 63 years old, that about wiped me out for the day! I have a better idea – let’s all be more cautious and courteous drivers when we are navigating areas with reduced visibility. Don’t forget, this was Southeast Michigan’s #2 worst winter SO FAR. We still have another 4 weeks to go.


    • Rick Brown says:

      I agree it can be hard on people- my back keeps reminding me of that fact. But I do think transit agencies have a obligation to keep their busier stops safe by clearing snow and treating ice.


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