The Washington region hasn't had a snow like Sunday's since 2016. The region's governments are aggressively plowing roads for motor vehicles, but how will other infrastructure fare?
Uncleared sidewalks create huge obstacles to walking around the city. After bigger snows, snow has gotten piled up at the corners, blocking people from crossing the street. It's especially hard on people in wheelchairs, parents pushing strollers, and people for whom it's hard to climb up and down piles of snow. Uncleared sidewalks and bike lanes also can turn to ice.
Here's a sidewalk at Mount Vernon Square getting a very thorough clearing:
— Peter Koonce (@pkoonce) January 13, 2019
The bike and Vision Zero teams in DC and Arlington, at least, have been hard at work through the storm to clear bike paths and protected lanes, which are travel thoroughfares just as much as an arterial roadway.
— Vision Zero DC (@DCVisionZero) January 13, 2019
It's the law in many but not all jurisdictions that a property owner has to clear the snow. In DC, the rule is eight daylight hours after the snow ends (so 3:26 pm Monday, if we go by sunrise as the start of daylight hours). Residents could be fined $25 if they don't clear their snow, and commercial properties $150. “Commercial buildings” as defined in DC includes residential buildings with four units or more, as well as stores and offices and such. People over 65 or with disabilities can get an exemption.
DC has a volunteer snow team to help people who can't shovel by themselves. More informally, if you're able-bodied, please help any seniors or people with disabilities or any friends with back injuries! (Some argue the government ought to clear sidewalks instead of making homeowners and commercial property owners do it, just as we don't ask property owners to clear the roads.)
After snowstorms in 2010, 2014, 2014 again, 2015, and 2016, we posted a “sidewalk snow shoveling hall of shame” to highlight large properties that don't shovel. This wasn't about the individual row house whose owner might be on vacation, injuried, or whatever. The “snoflaws” in the past have been large apartment buildings, commercial parking lots, big box stores, the National Park Service, and local governments.
This year, the Park Service is shut down, making it even less likely that the agency could clear snow on the sidewalks around federal squares and triangles. (As it is, the DC government had to step in to pick up trash for a few weeks.)
What are you seeing out there?