The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 10, 2014

Clearing sidewalks a necessity

Why it matters: Not only do city ordinances require sidewalk clearing, but it lessens the burden of getting around for others.

Sidewalks are more than nice paths along city streets and bridges. For many people they are a necessity for getting around all year.

Nothing made that clearer than following Mankatoan Sam Stanke around town after last week’s heavy snowfall.

Unable to get through snow-clogged sidewalks or uncleared curb cuts, Stanke took to traffic lanes in his wheelchair to get where he needed to go.

Not only is that dangerous for him and others who are forced into traffic lanes to get around, it’s humiliating when drivers honk or shake their heads at you because you are in their way.

Everyone on snow-removal duty, whether it be for houses, businesses or churches, knows what a challenge it’s been to keep up with this winter’s snow and ice cover. The job seems to be nonstop.

Even so, removal must be done and in a timely manner.

City ordinances actually require it or property owners could be charged for professional removal.

Using the sidewalk isn’t just a convenience for Stanke and other wheelchair or scooter users; many pedestrians need walking routes cleared to safely get around Mankato-North Mankato. Some people don’t drive, can’t drive or, for a variety of reasons, choose not to.

It shouldn’t take a complaint to City Hall to get people to clear their sidewalks and curb cuts. And local governments are no exception. For example, the walkway along North Star Bridge should have been cleared of snow before numerous students headed home from school Wednesday.

On Veterans Memorial Bridge Thursday morning an older man carried bags of groceries as he walked on the shoulder of the traffic lane. The sidewalk was still covered with clumps of snow.

The responsibilities of being a property owner include maintenance.

That includes snow removal on public walkways. And that includes whether you are at home or on a Caribbean cruise when the next snowstorm hits.

If you can’t do it yourself, than hire someone else, request help from a neighbor or relative, or contact volunteer agencies such as VINE to coordinate help to get the job done.

Winter is a nuisance for most of us at this point in time, but for others it has created hardship. Do what you can to lessen the burden.

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