Home > Complete Streets, Walking > Show a little respect, clear your sidewalk

Show a little respect, clear your sidewalk

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Given no sidewalk, people on foot are going to walk in the street. Often putting them right in the lane of traffic, like below-left. Less intrepid people, but whose only option is walking or a wheelchair, are likely just to stay home.

In other places, we have sidewalks and in the winter they are often impassable. As a courtesy, the City attempts to clear the sidewalk network, but it’s a low priority and with each new snowfall Public Works starts back at the beginning of their cycle with the critical areas around schools and the hospital. Cleared sidewalks like below-right are rare.


This is a reminder that it is our responsibility as city residents and business owners to clear the walk in front of our homes and establishments. It can be difficult to do when your pressed for time and your focus is getting out the back door to the garage, and you might not even ever think about the front of your house and property, but it is still your responsibility.

In many cities, where they have taken safety and accessibility seriously, they bill residents who fail to comply with snow removal ordinances–see Ann Arbor’s policy, Lansing’s, and Saline, Michigan’s (the latter starts with a $25 fine, 2nd time is $50, and the third is $100.) All three have resources for the elderly or those with disabilities.

Is Traverse City ready to add enforcement ($) to its snow removal ordinance?

City Ordinance 668.11 [Removal of Snow and Ice; Responsibility,  Costs.] requires that “the removal of snow and ice from private  property and the sidewalk abutting or crossing private property shall be the responsibility of the occupant of such private property.”




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  1. BeSquirrely
    January 24, 2013 at 8:22 am

    I was just thinking that the city has done a great job in our neighborhood lately, often plowing the sidewalks hours before the street plows go through! Today they were done before the sun was even up!

  2. January 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Gary, thanks for this important reminder. A couple years ago I suggested the city put an insert in the November Light & Power bill to remind people that they have to shovel the walk in front of their house. There was agreement in the meeting to do this, but it must have fallen through the cracks.

    On a related note – the ordinance also says that snow removal on public property and sidewalks along public property is the responsibility of the governmental owner. I bring this up because the sidewalks along city bridges and parks are usually among the worst I encounter. Plus the city apparently refuses to take any responsibility for city-owned sections of the TART.

    It’s frustrating for homeowners who follow the rules to see the city neglect them – and in some cases, flat-out refuse to follow them. Other northern cities (Petoskey and Marquette come to mind) have similar budget constraints and more snow, but do a much better job of keeping their primary trails clear.

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