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On being a ped in the snow

Categories: General

Making myself some notes to take to tomorrow’s Bicycling & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting, re the last week or so.

What can be done about sidewalks & crossings? I understand that there aren’t resources for city to clear any sidewalks and that it’s not legally the city’s responsibility. However, a week & a half after start of the storm, several days after melt started, sections of arterial sidewalks are still nearly impassible. There’s multiple areas VERY slick ice, never shoveled, trampled down into hard crust over the sidewalk.

Crossings & bus stops were especially treacherous. Crossings, including across driveways, had/have piled-up ice/snow/slush, sometimes frozen slick, sometimes in deep puddles, from multiple passes with snowplows, with slick edges from turning cars. All sidewalks had snowplow pileup problem, but at bus stops the trample-down issue (slick ice caused by foot traffic) became pronounced, plus the physical issue of stepping on/over/thru snow piles.

A particular location note: an adhoc sidewalk on 4th, where the sidewalk is right on the street and was covered in very deep (and sand/debris-filled) snow (etc), instead people cut in on the other side of street trees, what is now a muddy mess, probably ruining some of those lawns.

How can the city better support businesses & individuals on key pedestrian routes? Is there a way to manage sidewalks adjacent to empty lots, construction, etc? What about when businesses are closed for multiple days, with no way to clear the sidewalk? Is there an option for citing businesses that clear their parking lots, only to block the sidewalks with the overflow?

On the plus side, one spot with an awning (Bike Tech) made for at least a narrow walkable strip. Are there ways to encourage additional awnings? Either through code or with financial incentives?

Random question: did the city clear sidewalks around city parks? (Lions Park, for example) If we’re encouraging ways to make the parks part of the pedestrian network, then should park sidewalks on arterials be considered key infrastructure? (Or something, feel like I’m not saying what I mean.)

Ideally, during a major snow event you want people switching to walking and/or public transit (which usually requires some amount of walking anyway). Can plowing/clearing/sanding systems be set up to make that an easier choice for more people? I know extended ice/snow is rare around here, but we’ve had two major events in less than 5 years, and one gathers that climate change means wackier weather, not just warmer weather. More storms & whatnot. Seems prudent to plan for disruptions and mitigating them.

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