Upham's Corner Online

Snow Removal - Boston is not Pedestrian Friendly

Posted: January 21, 2011  Nancy J Conrad

Boston's constituents consist of businesses, organizations and residents. After a major snowfall businesses and organizations are typically shut down or operating on "low-power." Residents are stuck at home.

After a major snowstorm, Boston's priority is to get the City back up and running again as quickly as possible.  Getting the streets cleared has high visibility.
  • Clear the streets so the buses are running again
  • Clear the streets so commuters can drive to work again
Residents who use public transportation and those who stay at home and shop locally need more than just the streets cleared. They need safe access to sidewalks, streets, access ramps and crosswalks.  

Summary & Overview
January 12, 2011 Snowstorm
Snow Removal Issues
Chief Mackan Interview
Boston Not Pedestrian Friendly
The fact that these are not cleared properly in compliance with the snow ordinance tells you something. 

"I shoveled the sidewalks. It's good enough."
"I did the sidewalk. I don't have to do the street."
"The ordinance doesn't require shoveling handicap ramps."
"Fire hydrants?  You have to be kidding."
"I'm not required to shovel the bus stops."
"They never ticket anyway."

The businesses and residents that are sloppy about shoveling do not respect the snow removal ordinance nor do they respect its intention. Furthermore their behavior creates problems for those who are diligent.  If you take the time to carefully shovel your sidewalk but your neighbors don't, it can leave you feeling frustrated.

Code Enforcement approaches their role uniquely.   They choose to not be at war with half the City over "snow removal" but rather approach their job as a "teaching" opportunity.  They ticket only the most recalcitrant businesses and residents. 

Interview with Chief Michael Mackan of Code Enforcement

The net result is that the ordinance as written or as intentioned is not being enforced.  So noncompliant neighbors get away with a lot less work. "That's not fair!" It doesn't take long before you also see no reason to be diligent if it doesn't make a difference.

The apparent disregard for the safety and well-being of pedestrians following a snowstorm is a clear indication.

The City of Boston is NOT pedestrian friendly.

Snow Removal Issues 1/14/2011

Please, just a little bit wider!  
What a difference that would make.
Snow Removal Issues 1/14/2011

People who use the bus? 
There's a path.  You don't see it?
Snow Removal Issues 1/14/2011

You don't like it?  Walk in the street.

Let's step back a minute and reflect on the ordinance:
  • Is removing snow from the sidewalks that important?
  • Does it matter if the sidewalk is shoveled 24, 30 or 42 inches?
  • Does it matter if the sidewalks are shoveled at all?
  • Why not eliminate the snow removal ordinance if it isn't going to be enforced?
Go for it!

Eliminate the snow removal ordinance. Give homeowners and businesses free reign - shovel, don't shovel, carve a narrow path or a wide path, shovel down to grade or not.

[View Snow Removal Regulation #16-12.16]

What would happen? Would the pedestrian walkways be any worse? We believe Boston would look about the same as it does now, at least in Upham's Corner.
Businesses and residents are not deciding to shovel or not shovel based on an ordinance. Every resident and every business has an attitude about themselves, their neighbors and their customers. Their behavior reflects the importance of these relationships. What's missing is a strong sense of community:  MY neighbors, MY street, MY micro-village (Upham's Corner)

Community provides standards, structure and peer pressure. The closer you are to your small community group, the greater the camaraderie and the more you, as a group, want to work together to accomplish similar goals.  If I do not feel strongly attached to mycommunity and its standards, then I make decisions thinking only of myself.

Yet there is more at stake here than those who choose not to comply with the snow removal ordinance. There are more people present in Boston during a snowstorm than residents who tolerate each other's bad attitudes.  Among us are people who don't live in Boston, people from out-of-state and people from out-of-country.

The City of Boston is a world-class city. We need to portray ourselves in a manner that attracts outsiders. Boston needs to present itself as an all-around friendly city. It's already considered to be business friendly, car friendly and recently named bicycle friendly. What happened to the pedestrians? Did we forget about them?

We need to find a way to change our bad habits and bad attitudes. We need to find a way to make Boston feel very pedestrian friendly.

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