Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Arlington's Sidewalk Clearing: More Preachy Than Practicy

I got an email from Arlington County on snow removal on Friday night. Yes, two and a half days after the snow stopped falling. Insert bureaucratic efficiency joke here. Here's part of the email ...

The County does not clear sidewalks and applauds residents and proprietors for clearing sidewalks to help neighbors and customers. This makes it easier for children to walk to school, and for everyone to access bus stops, Metro stations, and business areas. The County is asking for everyone, as you are able, to lend a hand to your neighbors and friends to help clear the sidewalks and driveways.

Especially think about your elderly or disabled neighbors, who cannot clear their own sidewalks, porches and steps. Clear access ramps to enable our wheelchair bound neighbors the access they require during these periods when mobility is particularly challenging for them - and check to see if they have enough food and supplies on hand.

As you can see from this picture, Arlington definitely doesn't feel responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of County property. The sidewalk on N. Quincy Street in front of "Mosaic Park"* is a treacherous sheet of ice ... as is the sidewalk in front of the Metro employee parking lot behind that ... and the sidewalk in front of Conte's bike shop behind that ... and the sidewalk in front of the County recycling facility across the street.

However, if you don't clear the sidewalk in front of your property, you're putting your elderly and disabled neighbors at risk, making you worse than Hitler.

I'm not saying the county can reasonably be expected to clear every sidewalk in front of every piece of county property, especially when there was a hard freeze so soon after the snow stopped falling. But it does seem antithetical to the County's emphasis on pedestrian friendliness to leave a busy sidewalk like this one completely unshoveled, unsalted, and unsanded. And in light of the guilt-tripping email, it all comes across as a bit hypocritical.

* Note on Mosaic Park - the "mosaic" is apparently made up mostly of blades of grass. Quite stirring. More on this in a future post.

UPDATE: There's a letter to the editor in the Sun Gazette this week on the same topic.
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