Snow causes problems for pedestrians around Missouri

The recent snowfall has led to quite a lot of discussion around Missouri of the problems caused by snow on the sidewalks--particularly when the snow is not cleared by the property owner, which makes pedestrians walk in the road.

An Independence Examiner editorial calls on property owners to "Clear the Sidewalk"

Let’s just take one example we saw this week, Noland Road. Several businesses have chosen to either not clear their sidewalks or, worse yet, clear their parking lots by pushing the snow onto the sidewalks. That’s a failure of both common sense and common courtesy.

So what are pedestrians – and there are a fair number of them – to do? The snow is impassable in places, so it’s into the street. On busy thoroughfares in particular, that’s asking for trouble.

Clearing the sidewalk isn’t just a civic chore. It’s about being a good neighbor. It’s about safety.

Lawrence, Kansas, recently began enforcing a new law the requires residents to clear sidewalks within 48 hours of a storm:

Monday was the first day the city of Lawrence issued citations for those who failed to shovel their sidewalks. Lawrence residents have 48 hours after a snowfall to clear their sidewalks if someone files a complaint. . . .

Most Lawrence residents approve of the law, but still there are some concerns.

City Code Enforcement Manager Brian Jiminez admitted it can be a hassle but he said for safety sake folks need to shovel their sidewalks.

According to news reports, Kansas City, Missouri is considering a similar law.  Kansas City (and many cities across Missouri) already has a law in place requiring property owners to clear sidewalks, but because it lacks a definite time requirement it is difficult to enforce.  A Fox 4 News article reports:

The blast of winter weather has caused treacherous driving conditions. It has also made snow-packed sidewalks a dangerous place for people who walk. In Kansas City, it could soon cost you for not shoveling your sidewalk.

It's been a difficult job for snow plows across the metro to keep up with the continued snow fall and keep roads clear. Many people who have to walk are forced to dodge traffic because the sidewalks are packed with snow. But many sidewalks haven't been touched by a shovel. Snow, several inches deep, makes it hard to stay on your feet. . . .

In some cities, strict ordinances mean fines of up to $70 for property owners who don't shovel their sidewalks within two days of a storm. The city of Kansas City feels their ordinance is much more vague, and difficult to enforce. The city has taken notice of how other cities go about enforcing tough ordinances and the effectiveness. It's possible something more specific could come to Kansas City.

The city of Kansas City warns businesses that if someone falls on your sidewalk and it isn't clear, that person could sue.

A letter to the editor on the issue says:

Please give special attention to ensure that you clear the curb cuts and ramps on the sidewalk of snow and ice.

The ramps and curb cuts are used by many people in the city, but especially by those of us who are disabled.

I've been making it a little project recently to photograph any pedestrians I've noticed who are forced to walk in the street because the sidewalk has not been cleared.  Here is the Uncleared Sidewalk Hall of Shame:

 

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