Eyes on the Street: City Can’t Keep Up With Snowy Sidewalk Complaints

They haven't been visible for a while, but there are stairs under that snow. Photo: Brad Aaron
They haven’t been visible for a while, but there are stairs under that snow. Photo: Brad Aaron

New Yorkers are told to notify 311 about sidewalks that need to be cleared of snow and ice. That’s what I did after I came across the 214th Street steps on Saturday, but as of today my request has yet to be acted on.

Over two days after what was at the time the most recent snowfall, these steps, which are adjacent to Isham Park and connect Park Terrace West with Seaman Avenue, remained covered. I’m fairly able-bodied and would prefer to stay that way, so rather than attempt to get down the stairs I decided to backtrack and take another route.

On Saturday afternoon I filed a service request with 311 online. This morning I got the following message:

Your Service Request was closed.

Work to correct the reported condition has been deferred because of seasonal considerations and will be corrected as soon as possible.

Depending on worker availability every effort is being made to clear the area. Please be patient.

Though streets had long been cleared for motorists by Saturday, the city still hasn’t made them passable for New Yorkers on foot. This response makes it seem as if crews can’t keep up with dangerous conditions for pedestrians reported to 311.

Sure enough, as of this afternoon the 214th Street steps had not been touched.

Have you gotten results by notifying the city of snowy sidewalks? Let us know in the comments.

After the jump, photos from Ken Coughlin of snowbound NYC bike routes, all taken on Saturday.

Path connecting Riverside Drive to Hudson River Greenway. Photo: Ken Coughlin
Path connecting Riverside Drive to Hudson River Greenway, near 88th Street. Photo: Ken Coughlin
Path connecting Riverside Drive to Hudson River Greenway. Photo: Ken Coughlin
Path connecting Riverside Drive to Hudson River Greenway, near 88th Street. Photo: Ken Coughlin
Central Park West bike lane on Saturday. Photo: Ken Coughlin
Central Park West bike lane on Saturday. Photo: Ken Coughlin
  • jooltman

    Would like to know overall public health cost of slip/fall ER visits this week, and whether sanitation budget might be increased by that much to clear pedestrian areas ignored by property owners, parks, DOE, etc.

  • Jeff

    I took Central Park West on Saturday! One big issue I had is that even where the bike lane was clear, it was encroached on by parked cars who were displaced from the curb due to snow buildup. The notion that a particular parking spot is simply unavailable because using it would encroach on the bike lane doesn’t occur to these people. Space dedicated to automobile storage unusable due to the snow? Just steal that space from another class of street user! It reinforces the fact that automobile storage is the most important use of public space. If conditions permit, sure, we’ll give you a tiny little slice of asphalt to ride your bike on. But only if the primary objective of automobile storage has been satisfied.

  • AnoNYC

    Be a good New Yorker. If you reside in or own a corner property, able bodied, and have some spare time; please clear the nearest pedestrian ramps. It goes a long way.

    Remember, we live in a dense urban environment where we rely on one another. There are some (e.g. seniors, disabled, children) which cannot traverse the slippery terrain. Look out for your neighbors. We are a community.

  • afk

    The hudson river greenway is pretty wide. Enough for a pickup truck with a plow to fit through, maybe dripping deicer behind it it’s cold enough. Hard to believe the parks department doesn’t already have one. And if they don’t, they have pickup trucks, put a plow on one.

  • Andrew

    “Deferred because of seasonal considerations”? So they expect to have the snow cleared by summer?

  • Reader

    The Upper East Side wasn’t plowed for THREE WHOLE HOURS before the Post blasted Mayor de Blasio for the injustice. The mayor was there the next day, offering his sympathies. So when will de Blasio come make his apology tour to the residents of Inwood?

  • BBnet3000

    Im more concerned about the sidewalks that building owners arent clearing in my neighborhood than ones that are the city’s responsibility.

  • Larry Littlefield

    They’re killing the Manhattan Bridge bike path with kindness. It has so much salt your bike gets covered with it. Not good for the steel.

  • Aunt Bike

    A few years ago we had a rather big snowstorm, and after a decent interval I reported a half dozen unshoveled sidewalks in my Staten Island neighborhood. I believe NYC law says sidewalks have to be cleared within four hours after the snow stops, I waited two days. I got similar responses to my 311 reports. I later read in The Gothamist that that month only three summonses had been issued for uncleared sidewalks in the entire city.

  • Joe R.

    I’m all for the law being enforced but only after it’s changed to something reasonable. As things stand now, nearly everyone would get a fine after a snowstorm, me included. What happens if the snow stops more than four hours before you get home from school or work? Or if it stops while you’re sleeping? Change the interval to at least 12 hours, then start enforcing the law. Allow exceptions for homeowners if the person isn’t able-bodied enough to shovel snow.

    Better yet, how about making sidewalk clearing a municipal responsibility? When you have conditions as in this past week where you basically have a coating of ice, most property owners just aren’t equipped to deal with it. It’s much more efficient to have the city clear the snow with proper equipment.

  • UES

    It’s the runt of the litter as far as bike paths anyway, but plowing on the East River path inexplicably stops for short intervals around the 70s. It makes biking southbound on the Upper East Side impossible unless you want to bike in traffic.

  • afk

    No exceptions. City or property owner’s responsibility, I’d prefer the former, but the latter is acceptable, and get it done promptly. If that means hiring someone to do it for you, there should be plenty of landscapers that don’t have that much to do this time of year and could use the work. If people knew they were going to be fined they’d be willing to pay for the service, and there would be many willing to provide it. If you want, have an option of paying the city a set fee to clear your sidewalks for the season, one you are forced to enroll in if you are found to have not properly cleared your sidewalk at any time in the last five years.

  • Joe R.

    And what if you can’t afford to pay someone? You used to be able to get neighborhood kids who would shovel your sidewalk for a dollar or two but those days seem to be over. Last person who asked if we wanted our property shoveled wanted $20 for what probably would have been 10 or 15 minutes work (and to add insult to injury he woke us up at 7 in the morning ringing the bell incessantly). I can feed myself and my mom for a few days on that. I shovel our property and the neighbors on both sides just to keep these people from ripping them off and waking us up. Seriously, how many people can afford $20 and up every time it snows? I know plenty of people here who own homes outright but barely scrap by on Social Security. As far as having the city do it, knowing the city it would cost something like $100 every time it snowed. Keeping sidewalks clear should be the city’s responsibility, same as keeping the streets cleared. We sure as heck pay more than enough property taxes. Arguably, the city makes it more difficult for people to clear their sidewalks when the plows come and throw up plumes of snow.

    I have a better idea if the city won’t take responsibility for keeping the sidewalks clear. People should just walk in the streets en masse. If it slows down all traffic to walking speed maybe the city will get the message.

    By the way, the city can’t reasonably fine property owners for not clearing sidewalks four hours after the snow stops when it usually doesn’t even clear the streets until long after that. I still remember how the city forgot the outer boroughs a few years ago after a big snow. Never mind four hours. Many streets were still impassable four days later.

  • The Trillobite

    Nearly 57% of NYC households don’t have cars. And yet even here in the city the emphasis is on clearing the roads. Bus shelters, pedestrian bridges, crosswalks, etc are all an after thought. Things like that will not get us to #VisionZero.

  • red_greenlight1

    Wait your a property owner who can’t afford to hire someone for $20 to fulfill your legal obligations? Not to mention if you fail to keep your section of sidewalk safety passable your liable for that. I’d advise in such a case you sell.

  • red_greenlight1

    311 is useless during the best of times so it’s no surprise it’s useless now. It seems many property owners have realized they won’t get ticketed for not clearing their sidewalk so their not bothering. Or I’m seeing them clearing a small pathway only. Don’t they realize they can get sued if it is not cleared and someone falls?

  • Joe R.

    First off, it’s not my property. It’s my mother’s. She’s 75 with severe arthritis so you can’t expect her to chop ice. I shovel the sidewalks because she can’t. I just can’t always do it within 4 hours after the snow stops. Nobody can. That’s an unrealistic requirement and if you think otherwise come here and start chopping some of the ice. There aren’t enough people for hire here to clear all the sidewalks of those who can’t do it themselves within four hours, either. There aren’t any for hire people with the proper equipment to effectively clear the thick coatings of ice we’ve had this past week (not even the lawn care services have such equipment).

    As for not being able to pay $20, consider that a lot of home owners bought their homes years/decades ago. The mortgages are long paid for. They’re just getting by paying property taxes, food, electric, and so forth on their meager pension or social security checks. That includes us. And you’re telling people like this to sell? Sell and move when you’re 70, 80, 90? To where?

    No, how about neighbors helping each other instead? Make the time limit something reasonable, like 12 to 24 hours so people have time to shovel their sidewalks and the sidewalks of neighbors who can’t do theirs. A snowstorm shouldn’t be yet another opportunity to milk property owners. There’s enough of that going on already, like when the city fines store owners because someone’s litter blows on their sidewalk.

    If anything, the haphazard way sidewalks are shoveled makes the point that the private sector can’t always do things better or more efficiently than the government.

    There’s a good reason the city doesn’t bother to enforce the law here. I welcome them to come out here and try it. They’ll literally be hung from the lamp posts before they get three blocks. If the city starts trying to balance its budget on the backs of middle class property owners in the outer boroughs, it’s going to find a secession movement on its hands. We just came off 12 years of being an afterthought in Bloomberg’s NY.

    By the way, I’m getting really annoyed reading some of the posts here. Yes, I agree sidewalks are as important to keep clear as streets are. Yes, I agree they should be cleared within a reasonable amount of time, although I lean more towards 12-24 hours as being reasonable, not 4. However, we’ve had exceptional weather this winter. In a “normal” winter most of the complaints being voiced here are legitimate but this is anything but a normal winter. This is the coldest winter in a generation. If things don’t work normally for a few days, or even a few weeks, the world won’t come to an end. The manpower to remove snow/ice from everywhere it needs to be removed from just doesn’t exist. Nature isn’t cooperating, either. It hasn’t been warm enough for long enough for some of the snow to melt on its own, as in most other winters.

  • Joe R.

    Homeowner’s insurance covers that but it’s exceedingly difficult to prove in court that you fell due to hazardous sidewalk conditions. Remember anyone trying to make such a claim is basically fighting an insurance company with deep pockets.

  • afg

    There used to be a map of every cracked sidewalk in the city. Some lawyers kept it up, because if they notified the city, and it wasn’t repaired, the city was liable for damages. (while at the same time the homeowner was responsible for maintenance – city could fine them for not fixing stuff though, and maybe do it themselves and send a bill, not sure about that though) City was tired of big payouts, so passed a law saying they aren’t liable. Problem solved.

  • Joe R.

    Here’s the complete law ( N.Y. ADC. LAW § 16-123 ):

    a. Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person, having charge of any building or lot of ground in the city, abutting upon any street where the sidewalk is paved, shall, within four hours after the snow ceases to fall, or after the deposit of any dirt or other material upon such sidewalk, remove the snow or ice, dirt, or other material from the sidewalk and gutter, the time between nine post meridian and seven ante meridian not being included in the above period of four hours. Such removal shall be made before the removal of snow or ice from the roadway by the commissioner or subject to the regulations of such commissioner. In the boroughs of Queens and Staten Island, any owner, lessee, tenant or occupant or other person who has charge of any ground abutting upon any paved street or public place, for a linear distance of five hundred feet or more, shall be considered to have complied with this section, if such person shall have begun to remove the snow or ice from the sidewalk and gutter before the expiration of such four hours and shall continue and complete such removal within a reasonable time.

    b. In case the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, the owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any building or lot of ground as aforesaid, may, within the time specified in the preceding subdivision, cause the sidewalk abutting on such premises to be strewed with ashes, sand, sawdust, or some similar suitable material, and shall, as soon thereafter as the weather shall permit, thoroughly clean such sidewalks.

    c. Any person violating any provision of, or regulation adopted pursuant to, subdivisions a and b of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than ten dollars nor more than one hundred fifty dollars, imprisonment for not more than ten days, or both.

    d. Whenever any owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person having charge of any building or lot of ground, abutting upon any street or public place where the sidewalk is paved, shall fail to comply with the provisions of this section, the commissioner may cause such removal to be made.

    e. The expense of such removal as to each particular lot of ground shall be ascertained and certified by the commissioner to the comptroller, who shall pay the same in the same manner as the expense of removing snow from the streets is paid. Upon the payment of such expense, the comptroller shall deliver a certificate thereof to the council and the amount of such expense shall be added to and made to form a part of the annual taxes of the next ensuing fiscal year against such property, and the same shall be collected in and with and as part of the annual taxes for such fiscal year. The corporation counsel is directed and may sue for and recover the amount of such expense.

    f. This section shall not be regarded as interfering with the owner of any lots throwing into the roadway of the streets any snow or ice which may be removed from the sidewalk or gutter directly in front of such lot.

    g. The term “lot” as used in this section shall include a space not to exceed twenty-five feet in width fronting the street upon which the violation is charged to have been permitted, committed or omitted.

    h. Any person violating the provisions of subdivisions (a) or (b) of this section shall be liable and responsible for a civil penalty of not less than ten dollars nor more than one hundred fifty dollars for the first violation, except that for a second violation of subdivision (a) or (b) within any twelve-month period such person shall be liable for a civil penalty of not less than one hundred fifty dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars and for a third or subsequent violation of subdivision (a) or (b) within any twelve-month period such person shall be liable for a civil penalty of not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than three hundred fifty dollars.

    i. In the instance where the notice of violation, appearance ticket or summons is issued for breach of the provisions of this section and sets forth thereon civil penalties only, such process shall be returnable to the environmental control board, which shall have the power to impose the civil penalties hereinabove provided in subdivision h of this section.

    j. In the event that a violator fails to answer such notice of violation, appearance ticket or summons within the time provided therefor by the rules and regulations of the environmental control board, he or she shall become liable for additional penalties. The additional penalties shall not exceed three hundred fifty dollars for each violation.

  • afk

    You own the home outright and are broke and on social security? Get a reverse mortgage. Already did and it’s maxed out? So you’re not as rich as you thought, get over it, that doesn’t mean we have to impede the mobility of the rest of the citizenry. And if you professionalize this you don’t need an army of able bodied persons with shovels, you need a relative handful with snowblowers – that will drop costs pretty fast. They can do a sidewalk in a fraction of the time. And you’re not home to take care of this? Does that mean everyone will have to wait for you before venturing outside because you had stuff to do? Four hours is plenty of time. The goal here isn’t to milk property owners, it’s to clear the sidewalks, so as to allow for pedestrian mobility. The point of the fine is to have you get it done.

  • Joe R.

    You need to get out more. Pedestrian mobility is impeded whether or not sidewalks are cleared because every corner has a mound of snow thanks to the city plowing the streets. Or should property owners have to clear that mess out as well?

    Get a reverse mortgage to clear snow? Listen to how ridiculous you sound. We’re not rich but the bills are paid just fine. There isn’t money for extras like paying people to do jobs I can do myself. I already said I shovel the sidewalk myself but I can’t always do it within four hours after the snow stops, nor could I necessarily find anyone to do it for me within those four hours even if I could afford it. Sometimes you get people walking around asking to shovel, other times you don’t. I didn’t see any this week, for example. I guess they weren’t interested because they actually would have had to work for their money breaking up all that ice.

    Point of fact my sidewalk is typically the first one on the block which is clear so don’t give me any BS about impeding pedestrian mobility. If the city fines me for being over their asinine four hour time limit, they’ll be fining the entire block. 12-24 hours is much more reasonable. That’s why they have these things called snow days. It’s an acknowledgement that it takes longer than a few hours to get things back to normal. I typically don’t see too many people going anywhere after a heavy snow anyway.

    I’m all for professionalizing this with municipal workers and proper equipment, just like we do for street cleaning. That’s the solution. Fining property owners like you suggest isn’t. Remember the population is getting older. It’s going to be increasingly difficult to put the onus of keeping sidewalks clear on such an aging population.

  • afk

    An aging population? You mean the sort that are more at risk of serious injury if they fall on the ice because you didn’t feel like taking care of your responsibility to maintain the ROW? Four hours is plenty of time. If you aren’t available, hire someone. Yes I realize such a service isn’t available, but would be if there was an inkling of demand for it – if negligent property owners such as yourself knew it had to get done. And what’s ridiculous about spending money you have to fulfill your civic duty? You don’t see people walking much after it snows when there is nowhere for them to safely walk? Gee I wonder why.

  • Joe R.

    Trying to have a discussion with you is like talking to a wall. We already pay plenty of taxes as our “civic duty” without needing to pay more for your hypothetical snow removal service. The city should already be doing that as well as paying to repair sidewalks. Somehow both those things got foisted onto property owners as unfunded mandates-with predictable results.

    Maybe strong winds and very cold temperatures are reasons people aren’t walking around after it snows? Or perhaps the fact that buses often aren’t running after heavy snow might have something to do with it?

    Negligent property owner? So now you sit outside my place with a stop watch and count off those four hours? Many times my sidewalk was shoveled several times before the snow stopped. If on occasion I might not shovel it until more than four hours later I’m still doing better than most of the other people here.

  • Joe R.

    Not this year, but notice how we’re the only property shoveled:

  • carma

    joe, i wholeheartedly agree with you. as a homeowner and owner of several properties, i do shovel my properties, and if not, i have in my lease that my tenants shovel the sidewalk if it is not treacherous to do so. but the 4 hour window is ludicrous to anybody who works. which i would think for most homeowners is the case.

    it is absolutely the responsibility of the property owner to shovel, but it also must be a reasonable and prudent timetable. if i recall the law is that if the last snowflake ends at 7am, you have a 4 hour window, and at night, a 12 hour window. the law should simply be changed to a 10 hour window period giving enough time for folks who are on the job to return to their proerties and properly shovel. after that, i agree that the owners should be fined.

  • Kate

    The path from just north of the GWB all the way to dyckman is un-ridable, un-runnable and actually hard to walk on. I rode home last night from 26th Street to 181st Street and while there were some slippery areas, the worst by far was starting at the Amtrak bridge just north of the GWB… had to walk to Riverside. It’s frustrating that the infrastructure is there, but not taken seriously enough to make it useable when it snows. I’ve been tweeting Ydanis Rodriguez about it but will add Mark Levine and the Mayor’s office to my list.

  • Ari_FS

    Just to clarify, the 4-hour rule only applies if the snow stops falling between 7AM and 5PM. Otherwise you have until 11AM. See below (from 311 website):

    After the snow stops falling, property owners must clear a path for
    pedestrians and remove snow from sidewalks next to bus stops and
    hydrants as follows:

    If snowfall ends between 7 AM and 5 PM, property owners must clear sidewalks within 4 hours.
    If snowfall ends between 5 PM and 7 AM, property owners must clear sidewalks before 11 AM.

  • Joe Enoch

    One of my biggest frustrations this year is that the bike lanes are completely ignored while the streets, which cater to 4-wheeled vehicles that are considerably more stable in the snow, are cleared instantly — often at the expense of the bike lane. For example: On CPW, the bike lane is the defacto snow dump. Here’s a photo of Columbus Ave I sent to DOT and Dept of Transportation. I got no response from either.

  • nixnutz

    The insurance companies will also come around and make sure you fix problems with your sidewalk or they will raise your premiums. In the last week I’ve been wishing I knew a way to find out who my neighbors’ carriers are so I could report them, the insurers seem more likely to get stuff done than the city. Plus it just makes sense for the folks who are creating the risk to pay for it directly rather than making it a law enforcement priority.

  • Joe R.

    I tried to ride on the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway bike path by me on February 1. I got disgusted and got off after less than half a mile. It was impassable in spots with thick snow/slush. By impassable, I mean you couldn’t ride on it and even walking the bike was difficult. Mind you, this was well over a week after it last snowed, on the second day we had temperatures in the 40s. The city gives zero priority to clearing many bike/pedestrian paths under its jurisdiction.

  • Joe R.

    The city actually periodically sends inspectors around to check the condition of sidewalks. I noticed last year a lot of people on our block suddenly fixed their sidewalks all around roughly the same time. I’m guessing a city inspector came around and told them they had to.

  • Joe R.

    The problem with the rule is the 4 hour window between 7AM and 5 PM. During those hours many people work. The rule should give you until maybe 10 or 11 PM to clear the snow if it stops between 7 AM and 5 PM. The rule is difficult to enforce anyway because there are really no records of exactly when it stops snowing in any given location. You might have a blizzard which dumps a foot of snow, then brief flurries periodically which “reset” the 4 hour window.

    I agree if the city refuses to make sidewalk clearing a municipal responsibility it should fine property owners who fail to remove snow but it should also use common sense. Someone whose sidewalk is still impassable two days after a big storm deserves a fine. Someone who didn’t shovel until they came home from work doesn’t even if they’re outside the four hour window.

    A bigger pet peeve of mine is when people shovel but only make a stupid 2 or 3 foot wide path. You’re supposed to shovel the entire width of the sidewalk.

  • carma

    yes, in our whole area in bayside half the homes got hit with tickets. i got mine also which was a raised bump which i had fixed and had the ticket dismissed.

  • nixnutz

    My landlord had a really unfortunate thing where the insurance company made him fix the sidewalk but the contractor didn’t meet the city’s code and they made him redo the whole thing a year later. I suppose there are layers of blame to assign but it was a very expensive and unnecessary screw up whoever’s fault it was.

  • Joe R.

    You really need to be careful who you hire to fix your sidewalk. There are a lot of shady players out there who do the job with sledgehammers and bags of ReadyMix from Home Depot. That includes landscapers who think they’re also concrete workers. We hired a company which also does commercial sidewalks when we redid our sidewalk back in 1993. It’s still in great shape 21 years later, other than a few hairline cracks in the driveway. One thing the contractor told us you’re not allowed to do is use rebar or mesh in the sidewalk. You can use it in your driveway and any place on your property, but NOT in the sidewalk. The reason is because it makes it much more difficult should ConEd have to break up the sidewalk to get at utilities. By the way, they did break up one square a few years ago when they were doing gas line work, but they had to replace it at their expense.

  • Joe R.

    I can easily believe half the homes got hit with tickets based on the poor conditions of many sidewalks in my area.

  • JamesR

    Do you eat? If so, then you rely on goods brought to stores on vehicles that require roads to get them there. Unless you’d prefer to see 15 ton trucks immobilized on NYC streets and unable to deliver their cargoes.

  • Cold Shoaler

    Maybe 30-40% of the bike lanes I use regularly on my commute are essentially gone. (Solution: take the lane.) But the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, as well as the Hudson River green way bike paths, have been very well maintained. Give all the snow we’ve seen, I’ve been rather impressed by the latter.

    The sidewalk situation is a much more significant issue for the city. As much as I’d like to see the bike infrastructure receive more attention, many more people use and would benefit from clear walkways. Taking the lane where the bike lanes are snow-covered has very often been safer, faster, and easier that walking on the sidewalks in the same area.

  • pathfinder8

    It is a bit frustrating and I tend to bike to work. But I think given snowy situations, they need to have streets cleared so that buses can take most people to work since the subways are also running slow due to trains being stored on the express tracks. Additionally, Manhattan can’t function if it doesn’t have constant deliveries to stores which would mean food shortages so I think the city is just prioritizing. Not too many people are biking in snow anyway and most people who would walk would probably hop on a bus instead of walking through slush.

  • Daniel

    I think the 4 hour rule is pretty reasonable for businesses, especially M-F. But for residential properties it is so tough as to be unenforcable. I think extending those 4 hours to 12 hours in the CBD and 24 hours outside the CBD is reasonable.

    Everyone who is responsible for clearing snow knows that you want to do it before it gets trampled down into a block of ice. But I’m not going to stay home every time it snows so as to meet the 4 hour deadline.

  • Joe R.

    I would think businesses would want to clear snow as soon as possible if for no other reason than to allow customers access. So yes, I have no problem either with a 4-hour rule for businesses where people are generally going to be there during most hours to shovel.

  • Andrew

    Nobody says that you have to do it yourself. You’re welcome to hire somebody or to strike a deal with a neighbor who will be home. The point is that it needs to get done so that pedestrians can get around, and asking pedestrians to wait 24 hours is absurd.

  • wp

    The city divides roads into primary, secondary, and tertiary streets to determine plowing priority. Maybe the same should be done for sidewalks. If you live on a small side street, you might expect there to be little traffic, pedestrian or vehicular. So asking for the snow to be shoveled in the evening after work and again in the morning but not during the day would be reasonable – often enough to prevent it from freezing into a solid block most storms, but not so often as to create an undue burden on property owners for a relatively small benefit to the neighborhood. There should be a provision for others in the area to petition the city to increase the priority of the street (in terms of clearing the sidewalk) so that if it is a heavily traveled corridor, or becomes one, it could be cleared often enough to allow for mobility – and if you think that you have to work and so are unable to do so, or you are not physically able, why should everyone else in the area be forced to stay home as a result? Or drive their cars on hazardous streets instead of taking a bus? Any street that has a bus line should have accumulation limited to 3 inches, or the prior 6 hours of snowfall during the day AND shoveled within four hours of snows end.

    If this still seems like too much to ask, remember that if you aren’t able or willing to shovel yourself, if the city enforces a regulation like this, then someone would likely purchase a snowblower, and for five or ten bucks a house could clear several blocks and pay for the snow blower twice over in a winter like this one.

  • WoodyinNYC

    They also do a lousy job of clearing the spaces used by delivery trucks on upper Columbus Avenue. It’s really the cars in their subsidized parking spaces that get all the respect along the avenue.

    It would help a lot if they used teams of small plows and shovels to clear the bus stops. And then the delivery spaces. And the corners with pedestrian crosswalks, which so often turn into expanses of slush or ponds of ice water.

    Sometimes the snow plows run down the middle of Columbus long after it’s been cleared. The authorities need to direct them to work on the intersections with crosswalks and the bus stops and delivery spaces as soon as the main street is passable.


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