During my late afternoon adventures on Sunday, I noticed that sections of sidewalk were not cleared. The Department of Public Works has posted:
It is the responsibility of the property owner to remove snow within 2 hours after it has fallen, or within 3 hours after sunrise if the snow fell in the night. It is illegal to put the snow into the street.
In the case of an ICE storm, the sidewalk must be sanded within 1 hour.
Residential buildings and homes seemed to do a decent job of clearing snow from sidewalks in a reasonable period of time; I can not say the same for many of the snow removal job in front of numerous businesses. Along one section of Trumbull Street, I found only one crosswalk that had been cleared, and upon reaching the other side, saw that nobody bother clearing a path from the street onto the sidewalk. I had to walk in the street for awhile until I could get back onto the sidewalk due to snowbanks.
The sidewalk on Capitol Avenue between Laurel Street and Forest Street was not cleared (no surprise). The road in this area was thick with slush and the bike lanes were filled with snow. There was no place for me to ride, yet pushing my bike through the snow-covered sidewalk was a ridiculous chore. After standing on the sidewalk for a few minutes deliberating between these two crappy options, I chose the latter because it allowed me to at least be further away from cars that seemed destined to spin out on this stretch of road. I wonder how the kids will fare walking to Hartford High in the morning. Starting off the day with legs covered in snow and ice does not sound like fun.
The sidewalks around the gas station/chickenjoint on Sisson Avenue and Capitol Avenue were also not cleared, prompting me to cross in a spot I normally would not because I should not. The sidewalks across the street, by the Wood-n-Tap, were cleared. A lot of the foot traffic in this area, though, is of local residents crossing over to the gas station/convenience store and back.
Though much less of a concern, none of the sidewalks through Bushnell Park were cleared, except for the part that goes over the highway and behind the armory. This seemed odd because last week when we had that other bit of snow, the sidewalks through the park were cleared far better than most of the streets were. Judging by foot-and-paw prints, there seemed to be demand for the park on a Sunday. The path along the Riverfront was cleared, as was the parking lot at Riverside Park, though the gate was closed.
While a mere annoyance for me, someone with limited mobility might be put into more danger by the combination of uncleared sidewalks and lack of curb cuts which greatly reduce the ability for many to get from point A to point B.
During the POCD meetings, the need to make Hartford pedestrian-friendly came up repeatedly. This is another angle that must be considered. We are in New England, where snow and ice are not novel concepts but annual conditions. Because it is something that happens every year, we should not appear as if we are always experiencing these phenomena for the first time. It should also be remembered that while some people can choose to not take a walk around the block, others rely on themselves or a combination of themselves and buses for transportation. In a city with such low homeownership, it should also not be surprising that so many people do not own cars. Many of those on the lower end of the income scale have to get to jobs that pay by the hour and which require them to be there even during storms, even on Sundays. It’s not too much to ask that residents and businesses have their sidewalks sufficiently cleared twelve hours after a storm ends (which is when I walked through several of the aforementioned unshoveled areas) so that people can safely get to where they need to go. Even a few handfuls of sand or salt tossed in random spots would have been an improvement over what I saw in many places.