Friday, December 21, 2012

Thanks for clearing your sidewalk!

First, thanks to all who promptly cleared their sidewalks. I know how hard it can be, as my back will attest after going through 3 rounds of manual snow/ice removal in the last 24 hours, including removing the ice wall in front of my driveway this morning. (Not only do I not own a snow-blower, but without a garage, I'm not sure where I'd put one.)

One of the local business
that didn't clear their walk,

even though they managed
to fully clear their parking lot.
I am frankly stunned that some of the commercial properties - in front of apartment buildings and stores - are so poorly cleared. Since the stores are open for business and people are coming and going from the apartments, I know it's not a case of no one being able to physically get to the location.

City ordinance requires that sidewalks be cleared within 24 hours of the end of the storm. If you can't get all the ice off, the city expects that salt/sand be applied. 

I am very happy that we have this ordinance, because not everyone is physically capable of navigating snow banks, icy sidewalks, or narrow paths stamped down only by others' feet. A few years ago there was a news story about a student at the UW who was trying to get to classes but couldn't because he was in w wheelchair, and the sidewalk between his apartment and the corner had not been cleared. Not only that, he couldn't even get to a bus stop because the curb cuts at the corners had not been cleared. Even people with poor balance or less sure footing in general often can't navigate an uncleared sidewalk or blocked curb cut.

My neighbors shoveled.
Walking is not just an enjoyable activity, it is an integral part of our transportation system. Every trip begins and ends with walking, and walking is certainly safer than driving when the roads are still not completely cleared. And when the buses are up and running again, we will all need to walk to get to and from the bus. (And again, riding the bus is both safer for the individual, but also keeps lots of cars off the roads, thereby making icy roads safer for others as well.)

One of the other nice features of living in Madison is that there are locations around the city with sand piles (mixed with salt, which both keeps the salt from freezing into a solid mass and helps melt snow/ice.) This is free of the taking for use on your sidewalk, stairs, or driveway. I have used perhaps one bag of salt in 20 years of home ownership. I use the sand from the city instead. The darker color of the sand also helps the sun take care of the final melting.

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