Clarence Eckerson of StreetFilms calls snow “nature’s tracing paper”; you can see patterns of where people walk, bike and drive. In some cases, it acts as a “neckdown”, a curb extension that acts as a traffic calming device, forcing drivers to slow down. In City Rules, Emily Talen noted how these things work, how something as simple as the radius of the curb changes how pedestrians and drivers react: “As curve radii go from five feet to fifty, you get a completely different pattern and scale.”
The snow is doing what the traffic engineers won’t do: narrowing the streets, slowing people down. It’s showing the places drivers and people don’t go. It’s creating “snowy neckdowns” or sneckdowns.