So this is great and all, but how lame is it that we need a volunteer program to clear sidewalks? Isn’t this something that the land owners should have been doing right along?
C-U Safe Routes to School Project is launching a volunteer snow removal program with the support of MTD and the Urbana School District. When snow remains on sidewalks and builds up to block sidewalks, ramps, and intersections, the daily journeys of students and other community members become more dangerous as they must move into the street to find a clear path. This includes our riders.
Source: Volunteer Snow Removal Program | The Inside Lane
I think that volunteer snow removal is a good idea for several reasons.
1) Some folks are unable to scoop their own walks. Perhaps they are ill, infirm, elderly, whatever. I used to scoop my own walks (I lived on a corner) as well as the walks of some neighbors whom I knew could not scoop their own walks. My neighbor Joe did the same thing.
2) Some folks just don’t scoop their walks even though they should. I scooped some of those, too.
3) Snow on sidewalks often gets tramped down and becomes icy. To keep this from happening, folks might need to wake up early to scoop walks. When I lived near Wesley United Methodist Church, I suggested that those of us who lived nearby could volunteer to scoop the sidewalks early in the morning before the hooves of students compacted the snow to form ice.
Ideally landowners should scoop their walks, but not every landowner is ideal.
If landowners don’t mow their lawn, the city will take action—in the end going so far as mowing it for them and then adding the bill to their property taxes. I don’t see any reason clearing sidewalks should be different. In fact, I’d say clearing sidewalks is more important than keeping the weeds down. Weeds are just an eyesore; icy sidewalks are a hazard to the general public.
Yes, there are landowners who can’t clear their own sidewalks—but there are also bus and sidewalk users who are every bit as infirm. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs forced onto busy streets by uncleared sidewalks, and people who use canes and walkers forced to negotiate sidewalks that are barely passable by fit people wearing sturdy boots. Why should the landowners be privileged over the sidewalk users?
Volunteers to handle odd special cases are fine. But setting up the system to depend on volunteers? That’s as crazy as setting up your public schools to depend on volunteer teachers or setting up your bus service to depend on volunteer drivers.
That is strange. Apparently in Urbana property owners are only required to shovel their sidewalks in specific parts of town: http://www.urbanaillinois.us/businesses/sidewalk-snow-removal
Of course it would be nice if everyone would shovel their walks. I wonder if this program would actually disincentivize homeowners on the marked streets from shoveling. Why should I shovel my walk if someone else has volunteered to do so? (A hypothetical; my street has no sidewalks.)
Yes, that’s right. Worse, there’s a false idea among property owners that their legal liability for slip-and-fall injuries is greater if they attempted to clear the sidewalk (but left an icy patch) than if they did not do so. (I suppose on the imagined theory that the pedestrian knew what he was getting himself into, if he tried to walk across the uncleared sidewalk.)