COMMENTARY: Shovel away snow complaints

Thursday, January 27, 2011 | 7:53 p.m. CST; updated 11:49 a.m. CST, Friday, January 28, 2011
Nick Schnelle walks along Ash Street on an unshoveled sidewalk in a first person experiment to discover the quality of the clean up of sidewalks in Columbia on Monday. From his journey, Schnelle found that walking in Columbia after a snowstorm wasn't as much of an issue as it was just a hassle.

COLUMBIA — My boots were made for walking, just not on unshoveled sidewalks.

I developed this perspective a few days after Columbia's recent snowstorms and after noticing friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter venting about the conditions of the streets and sidewalks being difficult to navigate.

Walking about MU and downtown, I even overheard others complaining the city wasn't doing its job to clean up the streets and sidewalks.

The city is responsible for clearing most streets in Columbia, but residents and businesses are in charge of clearing their sidewalks under city ordinance.

After the last snowfall, I wanted to explore those concerns. I decided the best solution was to take a walk through the city and find out for myself.

While I could have driven, I felt the ability to walk in a city is more important — especially for those who don’t have the option to drive everywhere.

I began my journey on Ash Street, just west of Providence Road. Walking east, I noticed the sidewalks were hardly touched except by footprints.

As I walked through the uneven lumps of snow, I had to watch most of my steps. It felt more like a march than a brisk walk. I quickly found — after seeing others — it was much easier to walk on the street.

Progressing closer toward downtown, the water tower on the 100 block of North Garth Avenue came into view, and the conditions began to improve — though some of the sidewalks in the area were still inconsistently cleared.

It was only after I crossed Providence Road and entered downtown that the sidewalks became mostly clear of snow and ice.

From my experience, I felt the concerns I’ve heard about the clean up were genuine but may have been blown a bit out of proportion. In the end, a snowstorm makes walking in Columbia just a little more of a hassle but certainly not impossible.

It would be nice, though, if some folks would pick up the shovel.

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