Archive for Friday, December 28, 2007

Safe sidewalks

Shoveling snow can be a chore, but keeping sidewalks clear is an important safety issue.

December 28, 2007


Snow is a beautiful but treacherous part of about every winter in Lawrence. The city has been blanketed a couple of times already, and, if forecasters were correct, a fresh coating may be on the ground this morning.

With the snow comes a responsibility for local property owners: clearing the sidewalks. City ordinance requires sidewalks to be cleared within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall or ice accumulation. Those who fail to clear the sidewalks can be cited and are subject to a fine of $20 per day.

Although fines can be levied, this ordinance seems difficult to enforce. By the time the process plays out, changeable Kansas weather may already have taken care of the problem. Fines may discourage habitual offenders, but in many cases, a simple show of neighborly concern may be more to the point.

In residential neighborhoods, people know - or can find out - who might not be physically able to handle snow removal. In many cases, those people would be happy to pay someone to clear the walks. Or if you're feeling particularly magnanimous and can use the exercise, just keep shoveling beyond your property line. The neighbor might even invite you in for hot chocolate.

The city also has a program that formally matches volunteers with people who can't shovel for themselves. Both volunteers and those who need help can sign up for Safe Winter Walkways by calling 832-3338.

Businesses and public property, such as schools, also have a responsibility to keep their sidewalks clear. It's important to remember that even on the weekends or holidays when schools or businesses are closed, sidewalks need to be cleared.

Shoveling sidewalks is an important safety issue. Even when the weather is bad, some people need to walk to certain destinations. They should be able to do that without undue danger of falling on ice and snow. When sidewalks aren't cleared, walkers and joggers sometimes move into the street to find firmer footing, creating a safety hazard for both pedestrians and drivers.

If December is any indication, we may have more than the usual amount of snow to deal with this winter. Let's all work together to keep the sidewalks safe and clear for local pedestrians.


OnlyTheOne 9 years, 11 months ago

Nice editorial, too bad businesses will, as usual, ignore it and the ordinance while the "powers that be" do nothing! We have more important things to do than enforce a snow ordinance. Anyway, how effective is a $20 a day fine?

monkeyhawk 9 years, 11 months ago

Why are citizens held to a different standard than the city? My sidewalk had been cleared for days while the street was, and is, snow and ice packed.

Steve Mechels 9 years, 11 months ago

In Montana (where I am from) most of the city ordinances required that you have your sidewalk clear within 24 hours. If it wasn't, you not only got a fine (~$50 in the 1980s?) but you also paid for the contractor (hired by the city) who came and cleared the sidewalk. Obviously, that bill was larger than $50. Needless to say, most people cleared their sidewalks. $20/day? Heck that is nothing especially when it tends to melt within 48 hours.

misspeachy 9 years, 11 months ago

You don't own the sidewalk in front of your home or your business. There is an easement that belongs to the City. You can't post signs within 5 feet of the sidewalk even if you own the property without a permit that you have to pay for and then still it has sit 5 feet back from the sidewalk. Why should property owners who pay taxes have to shovel the City's sidewalks? The City can't even get the roads done properly and when they do come by they shove it all back on your driveways and sidewalks making it difficult to get out of you own driveway. Maybe unless you live on Easy Street. They even drive right by cars and spew the snow and dirt on other vehicles, saw it this morning. So, why shovel something that does not belong to you. Unless of course the City is giving their rights to the easement to the property owners and we all know that will never happen. They expect you to make repairs to it too! I guess I will clean mine off when I can put a fence around it and keep it soley for my personal use. Until that day comes I will not shovel nor will I ever make repairs on a sidewalk that does not belong to me.

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 11 months ago

I keep my sidewalks clear so my fellow Lawrencians won't slip and hurt themselves as they walk by my house. It's common courtesy, people. Get off your duffs and clear your sidewalks.

Kathy Theis-Getto 9 years, 11 months ago

haiku - not only common courtesy, but good liability prevention.

SimiensRainbow 9 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence has one of the sorriest ethics for snow removal of anywhere I've eve been. Yes, it does often melt in a couple days, but much of the time it does not, no-one seems to care. Businesses who hire plows then block sidewalks and curb cuts with enormous mounds of packed ice that take weeks to melt, even under ideal conditions. Then you have places like the hill on 9th St. where the only sidewalk is on the south side of the street and the very high wall prevents any sun from reaching it in winter...many, many weeks before that snow ever goes away naturally.

Yeah, Lawrence needs a real ordinance with real teeth that's really enforced. I honestly can't figure out why a city that prides itself on its neighborliness and friendliness, quality-of-life, etc. can collectively, with lots and lots of individual offenders, be so inconsiderate, beyond inconsiderate, tolerant of allowing really dangerous situations like the aftermath of a snowfall winter after winter.

Michael Sizemore 9 years, 11 months ago

Thanks, but not interested - every time a city snow plow drives down our street, it buries our 120 feet of sidewalk with yet another layer of ice and road grime. You want it clear, come clear it. Fine me.

STurner 9 years, 11 months ago

If you are going to walk the streets (the ones the city does not clear) and sidewalks (the ones that no one should have to clear) then wear snow shoes!

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 11 months ago

Thanks, but not interested - every time a city snow plow drives down our street, it buries our 120 feet of sidewalk with yet another layer of ice and road grime. You want it clear, come clear it. Fine me.

You better hope this guy doesn't live in your neighborhood:

lily 9 years, 11 months ago

I don't mind shoveling for those who walk. I've noticed that joggers are in the street even where the sidewalks are cleared. I wouldn't be walking or running in the street in this weather and risk a car sliding into me.
I noticed the city didn't shovel sidewalks in front of parks etc within 24 hours of the last snowstorm. 48-72 was more like it if even that.
Common sense is what is needed but that seems to be in short supply.

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 11 months ago

You mean the same idiots who throw their trash in my yard all summer? Smurf that. Maybe if they'd learn to pick up after themselves, I'd consider it.

That's what you get for buying a house in the ghetto. With that in mind, those lazy litterbugs will be the first ones to sue you when they slip and fall on your sidewalk.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 11 months ago

Grab a lightweight aluminum scoop shovel. Clear a strip down the middle of the walk. Solar rays will do the rest in a timely fashion unless it is shaded. Snow shovels are over rated!

Nikki May 9 years, 11 months ago

I shoveled after work, the walk had some ice from people walking on it during the time I was at work, but oh well it's scooped. The area around the park on our street is NOT shoveled. They never do it. My kids complained about it when they walked home from school. And the streets, forget that. I don't think they even think about half the side streets.

matahari 9 years, 11 months ago

I live in the ghetto and I don't have a sidewalk! I don't expect everyone to shovel theirs just for my protection. I take responsibility for being careful when I am walking on thin ice

baby_girl 9 years, 11 months ago

Sidewalks are one thing, but how about these roads? I went flying off of 15th street and into the ditch Wednesday afternoon after some idiot driver braked on the hill in front of me. I made an attempt to slow down from my already slow 20 mph. I applied my brakes tentatively and when i felt a little slide, i released, however, I still ended up in the ditch. Thankfully I was up towards the top of the hill where the ditch isn't so steep and able to work my way out and not at the bottom where I would have been on my side or worse in the deep ditch. The worst part of it was seeing another car come over the hill and slide into the ditch behind me, twisting and sliding it's way towards me. Yeah, I had to close my eyes on that one. Can we as drivers fine the city for unclear roadways? How about for accidents and automobile repairs? 15th street is the same place I hit a pothole about 6 months ago that was so deep it flattened my rear tire and threw off my alignment!! (The pothole was fixed the very next day). I had to foot that car repair bill, now I've got to take my car in for some noise and pulling (again) after skidding into the ditch all because there was absolutely no traction on that hill and stupid people can't seem to figure out that you don't brake suddenly in poor weather/street conditions. Most streets would have had a little clear spots that might have caught the tires and stopped me. What's with the poor street clearing this year? Lawrence usually does such a good job. And another thing! Last year on my way to the annual Christmas parade, I was walking on the the brick street adjacent to the courthouse, which was covered with ice, next to the icy sidewalk when my feet came out from under me. I just don't get it. Do i have bad luck or is there issues with this keeping the streets and sidewalks clear???

bearded_gnome 9 years, 11 months ago

this editorial assumes that there are sidewalks to clear, or sidewalks in some kinda walkable condition! many sidewalks are improved by two inches of snowpack. can the editorial board get more excited about plain sidewalks? northlawrence has many streets with no sidewalks* at all! you have to walk in the street, its the only place.

while we're on the topic of the editorial board, are they really supportive of open boarders as some of their comments would suggest? if so, they should seriously reconsider that!

coneflower 9 years, 11 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says: Grab a lightweight aluminum scoop shovel. Clear a strip down the middle of the walk. Solar rays will do the rest in a timely fashion unless it is shaded.

merrill is right! I used to live where it snowed several a times a week, all winter long. You could say we are experts in shoveling snow. If you can just clear part of the snow, the exposed sidewalk will soak up heat from the sun and the rest will melt. Until it does, at least there is a strip that people can safely walk on.

Teenagers, there is an opportunity here. My teenage son makes extra money by knocking on doors and offering to shovel snow for pay - after he shovels ours and the elderly neighbor's for free.

misspeachy 9 years, 11 months ago


I will say it again, the day I can fence my sidewalk off and keep it for my personal use I will shovel it and make repairs. The City of Lawrence is not homeowner friendly, does not like it when you do try to clean up or make a difference to your property. When you buy an older home that has been run down and try to make repairs all they do is get onto to you and try to fine you for that. Do this, don't do that. Meanwhile the place looks better than it has in years. Anything for money...

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