Commission lobbies for snow-free sidewalks

Panel report to city suggests cracking down on those who fail to clear them.
Saturday, February 6, 2010 | 3:59 p.m. CST; updated 4:40 p.m. CST, Monday, February 15, 2010

COLUMBIA — In response to winter weather, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission is urging the City Council to take action regarding snowy or icy sidewalks.

In a report to the City Council last week, commission Chairman David Heise said recent winter events restricted travel for residents who rely on sidewalks and forced pedestrians into the streets.

In 2008, the commission recommended addressing the problem several ways, including:

  • Educating citizens on their sidewalk clearing duty under city ordinance
  • Establishing priority routes where clear sidewalks are especially important
  • Considering city maintenance of high priority routes or sidewalks made impassable by road plows dumping snow on sidewalks
  • Designating inspection and public response responsibilities and outlining penalties for non-compliance

Section 24-12 of the city’s code of ordinances requires people to keep sidewalks in front of or adjacent to property under their ownership clear of snow and ice. Failing to do so is a misdemeanor, but enforcement is lax.

The Public Works Department is responsible for enforcing sidewalk codes, spokeswoman Jill Stedem said, but it lacks the staff to monitor all of Columbia's sidewalks. The City Council has yet to discuss whether stricter enforcement is in order.

"Nothing has been determined at this point," she said.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission recommends implementing an enforcement plan that includes standards such as a 24-hour deadline for clearing sidewalks after a winter storm or requiring that sidewalks be cleared to less than a half inch of snow with no ice.

The report said the revenue from fines for noncompliance could pay for enforcement.


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Mike Baird February 6, 2010 | 6:29 p.m.

Maybe it is just me. I think this is a little over board. I cant see them issuing tickets to people for not clearing off the sidewalk. I guess a lot more seniors will be issued tickets as they are advised to stay indoors during snow falls. I suppose that means no vacation in the winter, being that you could possibly have a ticket waiting for you when you arrive home. Do we not have other more important issues to deal with here?

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez February 6, 2010 | 7:00 p.m.

The Disability Commission of the City of Columbia has been asking about this same thing for many years with little to no results. Disabled Citizens need to go to work,doctors,shopping and more too just like the Non-Disabled Citizen in this community. In other cities across the Mid West they enforce sidewalk snow removal very seriously with fines starting at $500 a pop. Now if Columbia had such a enforcement ordinance they could generate quite the cash flow in revenue from those land owners,home owners and rental owners too lazy or cheap to keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice. It just might create a tiny seasonal job market just like it does in other cities bigger than Columbia. What makes the Bike and Pedestrian Commission think it can get something done that the Disability Commission cannot unless they are going to use the "Power of the GetAbout" to make it magically happen.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 6, 2010 | 9:31 p.m.

Chase down the chickens first, then go after the old people who don't want to get a heart attack for minimal shoveling.

If the city takes care of keeping the designated sharrow paths clear, GetAbout can stay out of this one.
Get back to me when there's more sidewalks built and more bicycles, pedestrians and wheelchairs out in the snow and ice.
Home owners make room primarily for their cars, mailman and the pizza delivery guy. Buy me a flame thrower and I'll do more.
(Heck, even apartment buildings and parking lots have problems keeping their grounds safe and sound during bad snow and icy days.)

Clear paths everyone’s responsibility
Monday, January 18, 2010
Interesting comments followed that one, fer sure.
(By the way, coming from a sue-happy city and once being a Boy Scout, I do try to keep my area shoveled and salted.
However, few people use my sidewalk when it's too cold and dangerous out. How much punitive generated revenue does this city really need?)
Honk if you love Robert Johnson!

(Report Comment)
Ro Sila February 7, 2010 | 8:07 a.m.

Robert Johnson has a point about sue-happy, but the shoe is on the wrong foot. Unless there is some protection in the ordinance for the property owner, some greedy &%@%)@* LAWYER will try to steal their property. Someone who shovels snow has messed with an act of nature. If the weather melts the snow, then refreezes it into a sheet of ice, and someone falls, the property owner is now legally responsible. At work and don't find the ice until you get home? Too bad, the money-grubbing lawyer doesn't care and the city -- which tells you to put yourself in legal jeapardy, won't take any responsibility either. When you put avaricious lawyers in a position of being able to take advantage of someone, you can bet they will. Doesn't help the walkers, elderly shovelers, bicylers or anyone except the ABA members, does it?

(Report Comment)
Scott Hentges February 7, 2010 | 11:27 a.m.

Perhaps the B&P Commission could provide something positive to the elderly community in creating a Shovel Brigade that would shovel the sidewalks of the elderly and disable homeowners; but then again you might need 4x4s. You get more flies with honey than with salt.

(Report Comment)
Keith Vessell February 10, 2010 | 12:07 p.m.

Seems quite excessive. Our sidewalks are constantly recovered by snow plows. There seems to be a lack of understanding on the part of the bicycle and getabout community.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 10, 2010 | 1:25 p.m.

("There seems to be a lack of understanding on the part of the bicycle and getabout community.")

-Or they just might have delusions of grandeur grander then mine.

(Report Comment)

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