'Sneckdown': Calgary man wants to use untouched snow to improve roads

Matthew Worona says “sneckdown” can indicate road improvements. A “sneckdown” is a blend of the word snow with neckdown; an urban planning term for the extended part of a sidewalk to protect pedestrians

Matthew Worona wants your photos of snowy intersections to see how roads can be made better

Matthew Worona believes any part of a Calgary intersection where the snow is undisturbed can be considered as both a "waste and opportunity" for potential urban planning changes. (Supplied)

Instead of thinking of snowy roads as a reason to keep the car parked in the garage avoiding potentially slick conditions, Matthew Worona says "sneckdown" can indicate road improvements.

A "sneckdown" is a blend of the word snow with neckdown — an urban planning term for the extended part of a sidewalk to protect pedestrians.

He told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday he is crowdsourcing pictures of snow-covered sidewalks and intersections because the areas of untouched snow can say a lot about urban design.

"When you see paw prints or footsteps or tracks in the road, it's kind of a historical record of what's happened in that space," said Worona.

"You can look at areas that are not being used to their full potential or just underused entirely."

The call for photos is a hobby project for the former transportation demand manager for the City of Toronto. These days Worona is a community coordinator with the Bankview Community Association.

He's inspired by an intersection near his home in that neighbourhood.
The southwest corner of 16 Street and 24 Avenue S.W. in Bankview is a merge point for two one-way streets, leaving a large portion of roadway unused. Matthew Worona says he figured this out by looking at untouched snow. (Sneckdown Calgary)

Two one-way streets converge at a T-intersection where only one turn movement is legally possible. By looking at the corner where the snow is untouched, Worona believes it proves that section could be converted into an extended sidewalk or small park without disrupting traffic.

Footprints can also indicate pedestrian desire-lines — another urban-planning term that descries pedestrians veering off the path in favour of a more direct route.

"There's opportunity to have sidewalks where there may not be, bike lanes, shorter pedestrian crossings."

He's asking for photos to be submitted to his blog or twitter account with the eventual goal of making suggestions to the city of Calgary.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener