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Monday, December 9, 2013

Something magical happens when you say, “I’m the one who should do it.”

Submitted by Councilmember Russ Stark, Ward 4

Nothing says neighborhood like a sidewalk that has been quickly, thoroughly cleared of snow.  For those who walk or use transit to go about their daily lives, sidewalks are as important as streets are to those in motor vehicles We are coming up on the most challenging time of year for getting around, particularly on foot.

When snow emergencies or regular plowing happens, my office gets complaints about streets not getting cleared fast enough or well enough. We hear about icy intersections, and rutted streets.

In between snowfalls, things often get worse for people navigating the city’s sidewalks, and I hear complaints about this, too. Snow gets mounded up at corners and sidewalks become skating rinks: without proper maintenance many routes become impassable for all but the fittest and sturdiest of residents. This limits mobility and access in our fine city for families with young children, the elderly, and disabled community members.

In advance of this year’s snowy season, I recently heard from a neighbor and constituent worried about this issue. Last winter, he slipped and fell on a sidewalk, which caused him significant injuries that now require him to walk with a cane. He is a senior citizen and doesn’t own a car, so his ability to get around on foot is critical to his quality of life.

I share this story, and Linda’s in the video above, to encourage Saint Paul residents and business owners to really pay attention this winter to making our sidewalks passable. If you or someone you know can’t clear the sidewalk and don’t have a neighbor to help, there are organizations that offer assistance. If you notice sidewalk neglect, you can use a reminder door hanger or report them either here or by calling 651-266-8989.

I am working to optimize our city procedures to make sidewalks more passable. Saint Paul Smart Trips has been a great partner to the city in getting information out to residents about snow-shoveling help, environmentally friendly sidewalk practices, and more. And you are an important part of walkable winter sidewalks, too. You can learn more here.

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