Home > Crank, Design the Details, Economics, Editorial, Traffic Calming > Why does the City plow alleys anyway?

Why does the City plow alleys anyway?

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The cars are going to be alright

Last week, I was chatting with some friends and an idea arose for the City to either 1) shave some funds from their street plowing budget or, 2) divert a sizable savings into other services, perhaps like an improved sidewalk and trail snow-clearing program. The bright idea is to do less plowing in the City and particularly to do less plowing in Traverse City’s alleyways.


Does this need plowing?

Default cutback

With budget cuts to Public Works, less plowing has already occurred and alleys are already a low priority. This is how it should be. Alleys don’t serve the same purpose as our streets and main through-fares. They serve primarily as private driveways and service access, the latter primarily using massive trucks that do a fine job of packing fresh snow down. Alleys also don’t have storm water drains, so the need to plow to prevent flooding isn’t an issue. As well, with expected speeds far below 20-mph, there is little, if any, safety concern.

Certainly, there may be the occasional big snow fall that requires a pass by a Public Works plow, but I put that number at about once or twice per season. Mostly, our motorized chariots do just fine once we shovel them out–they have motors and transmissions after-all. In addition, without snowplows scrapping our alleys down to the bone, we eliminate those days where we stagger out to the driveway, already 5-minutes late, coffee spilling on our jackets, to only find that the plow has gone by and dumped a 3-4-foot high pile of ice, slush and snow at the entrance–and, the shovel is on the front porch.

Now, help me here, because I might not be seeing this clearly. This winter has been pretty rough for people on foot in Traverse City and as friends may attest, I get a bit cranky about it. As a community, we do a miserable job of valuing our walking environment, which maintained well can serve more people regardless of ability or access to a motor vehicle. So, when I see alleyways getting plowed it is difficult for this pedestrianist to not see it in the context of sidewalks like this –>


Does this need plowing/shoveling?


What are your thoughts on the subject? Do alleyways require plowing? 



Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of writers previously published here or any of the organizations, committees, commissions or other affiliation the authors may belong to, unless so stated. 

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