In common with bike paths, snow shoveling, and web design

I’m a web designer (and a member of the bicycling brave and few, I guess).

I like to say, “What’s good for blind web users is good for all users” (I first said it here). Increasing the accessibility of a website to meet the needs of a blind or visually impaired user increases the *usability* for all remaining users. This is because you try to make your web pages easier to use for those who need your pages’ annotations and their tools to browse web sites. You end up making it easier for all users because you took something that was probably hard to use (or had many barriers to convenient use) and spent thought and time on re-coding or rearranging information. Websites can also be made accessible from launch day.

What does this have to do with bike paths and snow shoveling, though? Streetsblog pointed out that we often see our roads cleared of snow, but rarely see adjacent sidewalks clear of the white obstruction. Many people choose to risk walking in the street (to avoid slipping). Think of the implications made for people with assistive walking devices or in wheelchairs.

a snow plow clears a bike lane in Copenhagen, Denmark

A plow clears the bike lane in Copenhagen, Denmark, similar to what’s done in the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, the government shovels snow and salts to prevent ice formation. Wow. And then, what does this mean for people using walkers or wheelchairs? They get to travel safely, like the bicyclists! Bicyclists (those brave and few!) in the U.S. get studded tires, fatter tires, or walk their bikes.


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