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.