Winter Gritting Experts

What Is Gender Balanced Snow Clearance?

August 03, 2019

Most municipalities around the world perform snow clearance in a particular order.

First, the largest motorways are cleared of snow.

Next they will clear busy streets, especially near large employers.

Lastly they will clear pavements and cycle paths.

But Sweden does things differently, in the name of gender-balanced snow clearance.

Does it work?

gender-balanced-snow-clearance

Pavement snow clearance first

In 2015, Stockholm brought gender analysis to its snow clearance policy.

Gender analysis of Stockholm's snow clearance showed that it disadvantaged women, as they were more likely to walk.

Men were more likely to take the car, because they commute to employment districts, and roads leading to employment districts were cleared first.

In fact, it turned out that the pertinent point was not about gender balancing specifically.

The data showed that three times as many people were injured while walking in icy conditions in Stockholm than are injured whilst driving.

Slipping on ice is a common problem during the winter months.

Since the cost of those injuries far exceeded the cost of the snow clearance, the prioritization was reversed, so now pavements are done before roads.

The reality that more pedestrians than motorists are injured when there is ice and snow means that it makes sense to prioritize pedestrians first.

Sweden's findings were was that it was generally easier for cars to drive in some snow than it was for pedestrians to walk through snow.

Bottom line, the policy prioritizes pedestrians before motorists, and it simply happens that more women are pedestrians.

Has it worked?

In November 2016, the biggest snowfall for 111 years proved a harsh test for the new prioritization.

The right wing media had a field day, and according to the tabloid Aftonbladet's headline, "Feministisk snöröjning funkar inte i Stockholm," (Feminist Snow Removal Flunks in Stockholm.)

According to reports, buses were stuck on roads blocked by stalled cars.

Railways reportedly moved at half speed, which forced stranded commuters to walk to get home from work, slipping on the pavements and cycle lanes.

Unusual snow event

However, this was a one-off unusual event, with 15 inches of snowfall in one day.

November 2016 had some very unusual weather, including the first November snowfall in Tokyo, and snow in Australia days before their summer started.

Ultimately Sweden's reversal of snow clearance prioritization resulted in less injuries, and other countries such as Canada are now investigating the Swedish model to see if changing prioritization reduces slips and falls during their winters.

 

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