Let’s talk about “What We Do” at WalkBoston — the first organization in the United States to work to improve conditions for pedestrians.
Children, seniors and persons with disabilities are most affected. ADA has made it possible for persons with disabilities to get around with relative ease, but snow adds another layer of difficulty.
Snow presents and opportunity to forge partnerships within our communities. We’re working with a senior services agency in West Roxbury, where 25% of the population is 65 or older, and we’ve been working with the City of Somerville’s snow committee.
Once coalitions are formed, you have to get the ear of the decision makers. Perhaps the strongest way to compel people to shovel their sidewalks is to make it law. In the Boston area, the municipalities that require businesses and property owners to shovel are primarily the more dense, urban, walkable communities.
In a lot of places property owners could slip by without shoveling and not get fined, but fortunately that’s changing. In these cities, each day a sidewalk remains uncleared, it is considered a separate offense.
Inspectional officers can’t be everywhere, so in the City of Boston, citizens can report unshoveled or icy sidewalks, and they city is very good about responding to these reports. Most of the bigger cities in Massachusetts have a phone number you can call or an online form, but Boston is the only one with a smartphone app.
Refrigerator magnet created by WalkBoston for Somerville Snow Committee. A door knob hang-tag distributed to residents of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Enforcement is the stick - Encouragement is the carrot. Programs like these Best Shoveled block contests are another way to change the culture around sidewalk snow clearance. It makes sense to use letter carriers as judges since they’re out on the street regardless of the quality of the shoveling.
Where there are ordinances requiring property owners to shovel, the potential downside is that people who can’t shovel – elderly and disabled – may face fines. There are a few ways of helping these populations get their sidewalks cleared so they can avoid these fines.
Another advantage of having JR ROTC cadets do the shoveling is that they’re accountable to another body – in this case the high school and the school’s ROTC officer.
This is an exciting new software, and the Jamaica Plain neighborhood’s “Neighbors for Neighbors” community group got to beta test it for snow shoveling. It’s an “ad-hoc’ way of recruiting volunteer shovelers, but doesn’t come without some challenges. Sometimes a text will announce an address, and five people would show up to shovel the same 20 feet of sidewalk.
In metro Boston, our transit agency, the MBTA, doesn’t clear the vast majority of bus stops. They’ve recently announced that they will begin to clear snow from stops on routes with the highest ridership.
WalkBoston is working with the City of Somerville to recruit volunteers to clear snow and ice from bus stops. Idea came from a similar program in Portland, Maine.
Walk By Visioning - p2
Creating a Norm of Sidewalk Shoveling: Tools & Best Practices SNEAPA | Providence, RI | October 2011
Why is sidewalk snow clearance so important? <ul><li>Walking is a component of virtually every trip </li></ul><ul><li>Access to transit, schools, jobs, health care </li></ul>
Who is responsible? <ul><li>It varies </li></ul><ul><li>Municipal ordinances may require abutting property or business owners to clear sidewalks </li></ul><ul><li>Transit agencies may clear bus stops and facilities on/near stations </li></ul><ul><li>Municipal and state departments may clear public spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of clarity on responsibility leads to unshoveled sidewalks </li></ul>
<ul><li>Snow Presents an Opportunity for Coalition Building between municipal departments and with concerned pedestrians – especially seniors, educators, the human rights community, and transit riders. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>West Roxbury Snow Committee with Ethos Elder Services and City Councilor </li></ul><ul><li>Somerville Snow Committee with Shape Up Somerville and the City of Somerville </li></ul><ul><li>Project RIGHT youth workers and reporting unshoveled sidewalks to the Mayor’s Hotline </li></ul>
Municipal Attention to the issue regarding enforcement, encouragement, assistance and policies
Enforcement <ul><li>Boston </li></ul><ul><li>$50 1-16 units </li></ul><ul><li>$100 17+ units </li></ul><ul><li>$200 commercial </li></ul><ul><li>Cambridge </li></ul><ul><li>$50 a day </li></ul><ul><li>Worcester </li></ul><ul><li>$75 a day </li></ul><ul><li>Somerville </li></ul><ul><li>$25, $50, $100 </li></ul>
Green Ticket Law Statewide (local option) Parking Officers Cambridge <ul><li>Parking Control Officers have been authorized to write citations for sidewalk snow clearance violations </li></ul><ul><li>Unpaid fines added to property tax bills </li></ul>
Citizens Connect Boston <ul><li>Smartphone app for iPhone and Android </li></ul><ul><li>Allows users to submit a photo and pinpoint location on a map </li></ul>
Operation Rosebud Lowell <ul><li>Junior Air Force ROTC shovel sidewalks </li></ul><ul><li>Joint effort of city and school </li></ul><ul><li>Seniors sign up in advance </li></ul><ul><li>Assignments based on where cadets live </li></ul>Snow Exemption Program Cambridge <ul><li>City clears sidewalks for low-income elderly and disabled </li></ul>