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City Sidewalks, Snowy Sidewalks and Streets

December 23, 2009

When snow starts falling, it’s fun for kids and adults.  Then it stops falling, and it’s no longer fun for those who have to clean it up. 

Of course, it’s up to residents, businesses and the city to clean up the snow in Philadelphia.  For city residents, we have several obligations:

  • Clearing a sidewalk path at least 30″ wide within 6 hours of the end of storm
  • Not shoveling snow into the street
  • Adding salt on the sidewalk

Failing to shovel a sidewalk path or shoveling snow in the street can lead to a $25-$300 fine.  Living in the city, I know for a fact that many residents did not heed their obligations.  Even with the snow starting to melt by the middle of the week, there are still many areas in all sorts of neighborhoods with uncleared snow.  A major violator would be businesses or other commercial properties that may be closed for the weekend or for the holidays and who have failed to hire someone to keep their sidewalks clear.  I, for one, agree that there should be citations handed out.   It’s a major hazard for those who walk around in the city.  Sometimes, it’s been easier to walk in the streets than in the sidewalks.

One of the apparently 5% of uncleared streets

Of course, the streets are another problem altogether.  As of Tuesday, the city was claiming that 95 percent of the streets were cleared.  That assertion is laughable.  In the Center City/Rittenhouse area, there are a ton of streets that have considerable snow on them.  Driving around in Fairmount and South Philly last night, I can attest to tough driving conditions in more than 5 percent of the streets on which I was traveling.  Yeah, I know about budget cuts and the record snowstorm, but the city can do much better in clearing the snow, particularly as it’s a major public hazard.  Just the other day, I saw a SEPTA bus stuck in a Center City intersection for about 20 minutes due to snow.  I travel to Colorado every year, and even with the significant snowfall there, the streets are in significantly better conditions there.

So, the snow clearing is a joint effort, and both residents and the city need to improve for future snowstorms.

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