(Example of unshoveled sidewalk at H&Pizza during the January blizzard (from Twitter))
Shoveling sidewalks continued to be an issue during the Presidents Day Holiday snow and ice event, reminding me that not everyone took the time to shovel their walkways. While it can be difficult at times to clear snow from sidewalks immediately after a snow event — and the two feet we received in January was a major challenge — most residents and many businesses did an overall good job of clearing the sidewalks.
One question that I’ve been asked a couple of times is: “What about businesses that are open for business but don’t shovel their walks, shouldn’t they be held to a higher standard?” While I’m not sure if there is a practical way to address this issue, I do personally feel that if a business has enough staff on site to open, they definitely should be able to shovel their sidewalks. Currently those who do not shovel their sidewalks risk being fined (seniors and those with disabilities can register for an exemption), but I’m unaware of anyone actually receiving a fine. This is not surprising as the city’s primary focus will always be clearing the streets to maintain public safety and restore normal transportation operations.
If the District actually had the people necessary to issue fines for unshoveled sidewalks, fines for unshoveled walkways at businesses open and operating could be doubled as an incentive … but then again, fines aren’t always the right way to go. Perhaps a better way to go would be to focus on getting the Georgia Avenue Main Streets up and running. A Main Streets could take on the responsibility of coordinating the clearing of Georgia Avenue’s sidewalks during bad weather.
Hopefully we’ve seen the end of snowy weather for the season and we can find a solution prior to the next season.