Winter vocab: What do you call the snow piled where the sidewalk crosses the street?

snow blocked sidewalk illustration

You know that snow that ends blocking the sidewalk where at street crossings? The crusty, icy mountain ranges with narrow footprint shaped passages? What are those called?

We were thinking about this the other day while climbing over one of the snowy barriers. They're pretty much everywhere this time of year. And we figure there's gotta be a specific term for them. And if not, maybe it's time to coin one.

So, what's the word for that snow?

Earlier on AOA: That frozen slush on the bottom of the car


Terra Periclitatus - or inconsiderate neighbor who clearly doesn't walk anywhere or own a dog - but that's not as catchy.

Plowicade: snow barrier left by winter street clearing operations.

I call them a curse. It's probably the one thing I hate the most about winter around here.

A few days ago, I saw a guy fall almost on his face in the crosswalk while climbing though one. He was nearly over it when snow on the street side crumbled under his weight and he couldn't steady himself to stop the fall. It's a good thing for him there was no traffic.

Two years ago, one of the neighborhood cops had to help me over one of those treacherous snow barricades.

In old England it used to be called "walker's demise."
In the 50's they started calling it the "snodian."
I prefer Sidewalk Crust. But for the Game of Thrones fans, maybe we can call it the Northern Wall.

I call it the "frost-across."

I know this isn’t as fun as all the cool terms the All Over Albany universe comes up with (by all means, keep them coming), but in the urban planning field this phenomenon of a rim of snow forming around a crosswalk, typically as a result of a plow or several cars taking wide turns during a heavy snow fall, is known as a “sneckdown.” This is merely a recent play off of the less than sexy “neckdown” used by urban planners (see links below for definition and pictures), with the addition of an “s” to the term to signify the concept of snow forming the visual representations of underutilized space in our urban environment.

I find these very intriguing as I walk around town, for they demonstrate all the underutilized locations by vehicles where curb extenders, widen crosswalks, islands/planters, or bike lanes could be installed, helping to promote walkability, safety and calm traffic. While many may hope for an end to winter, I think mother earth has a few more storms left in her (like this Thursday) and I have begun snapping pictures of these sneckdowns in hopes that the community at large in coordination with the City of Albany can explore ways to enhance our urban landscape, public-scaping, and walkability throughout town.

Wouldn't it be a berm? Maybe a snow berm if you wanted to be more precise?

^Sneckdown - nice job, ethan. I hadn't heard that before.

Could these snow piles be referred to as boilerplates (the term for frozen, crusty, hard-packed snow, often with icy patches that can be dangerous for skiers. {dictionary dot com}) ?

YES! Sneckdowns provide a template for a more walkable city! (Though they are treacherous for pedestrians to navigate right now!) Here, enjoy this Sneckdown video:

The foot trail should be a scanyon, and the piled snow a...snountain. Voila!

A violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Bryan, I'm glad you mentioned it. There's a blind man in my neighborhood who relies on walking and public transportation, I have no idea how he handles it this time of year. Almost none of the corner-lot neighbors in our hood shovel out that part - not to mention the number of business and city-owned properties who fail to shovel at all.

FYI - don't forget you can report these types of hazards on the Albany Works 4 U / See Click Fix app or on your computer:

my name for them violates the decorum of AOA.

i own a corner lot and i do my best, but the ****ing plow finds it necessary to come across the middle of the intersection and plow it all back up on my sidewalk, usually as I just finished removing their previous deposit. i'm just going to start leaving apology notes staked in the @#$@#$# @$^%&^^%!!!!

Ask an Inuit.

(Pain In The A** Pile)

Hi there. Comments have been closed for this item. Still have something to say? Contact us.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine