OPINION | Barry Richard: Snow Removal Should Include Sidewalks, Too
Walking remains treacherous in New Bedford a week after the last snowstorm. Resident Marjorie Blaha, who lives in the Campbell Street area, brought the issue to the attention of The Standard-Times, and I applaud her for that.
At 60 years old and having suffered a heart attack several years ago, walking has become a part of my daily routine. It is incredibly difficult. A sizable snowstorm can keep pedestrians off the sidewalks for a week or more if they are not properly shoveled, as required by law. And many have not been shoveled, forcing pedestrians into the streets. My walk includes Acushnet Avenue from about Pa Raffa's to Tarkiln Hill Road. Most of it has to be done in the street.
This most recent storm saw city crews plow huge mounds of snow to the corners of almost every intersection, blocking access to curb cuts for disabled individuals and wheelchairs. Even in cases where residents did clean snow from in front of their property, it is damn near impossible to access the sidewalk because of these mounds. When access can be obtained, it can still be futile, as perhaps one resident has shoveled but the next has not, forcing you back over the snow mounds and out into the street.
I understand that opening the streets is of primary concern following a major snowfall and that can result in some inconveniences. But a week after the storm, to still have access to curb cuts denied because of high mounds of snow is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable that the city will not crack down on those who refuse to shovel their walkways.
On Saturday, as the Downtown bars and restaurants were filling up for St. Patrick's Day celebrations, visitors were forced to climb over huge piles of snow that still lined the sidewalks. On many streets, it was impossible for some folks to open their car doors against the snow banks. Nothing had changed by the next day, when even more people entered the Downtown for the New Bedford Half Marathon. Those sidewalks should have been cleared to the bone by Sunday.
When a storm hits, clearing the sidewalks is every bit as important as clearing the streets. Let's get it right next time.