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Clearing Of Sidewalks Should Be Based On Their Use, Not Schools

Mayor Eddie Sundquist has a lot on his plate right now. This weekend’s snowstorm should add one more item to the mayor’s already full agenda — sidewalk plowing.

Clearing sidewalks is the responsibility of homeowners or tenants, but anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the city’s population demographics realizes many city neighborhoods are populated with older people who may not be able to clear their walk due to age or medical reasons. Some city residents with snowblowers are more than happy to clear entire streets. Those kind residents deserve your thanks and, maybe, the offer of a warm cup of coffee when they’re done clearing the walk in front of a neighbor’s house. Working-age neighbors may not always have the time amidst their busy days to shovel their walks and the walks of neighbors on either side of them, leaving a mismash of cleared and uncleared sidewalks.

That’s where the city’s sidewalk plow system comes into play. The mere presence of a sidewalk plow in the city’s fleet is an acknowledgement that some areas of the city need to have reliably cleared sidewalks. We’re not going to advocate for using sidewalk plows throughout the entire city, at least, not without knowing the city could provide the service without adding additional people. It is time, though, to come up with a new way of deciding where the sidewalk plow is deployed.

Some areas of the city have their sidewalks plowed because of their proximity to schools without consideration of whether or not children actually walk to school in those areas. In some areas, sidewalk plows are being used where no children are walking to school and where hardly anyone walks in the winter in the first place. Conversely, one often sees parents — often mothers — struggling to push strollers in the winter on uncleared sidewalks or pushing strollers in the road in areas where doing so really isn’t safe, but the parents have no choice. The winding curves of Baker Street are one area where this is a particular problem.

Use of sidewalk plows really needs to be based on amounts of pedestrian use and not proximity to schools.

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