Posted by Margaret Desjardins on Jan 22, 2009.

It' SNOW Joke

Snow is no joke for the disabled who often have to navigate icy sidewalks and piles of snow on wheels.

"We don't have the option to climb over snowbanks or hop into the street to get around something impassable," explains Laura Brelsford, Chair of the volunteer board of Cambridge's Commission of People with Disabilities. "So we really need clear sidewalks -- that's three feet wide so we can turn our wheelchairs around, and clear ramps so we can cross."

To the disabled community, Michael Muehe, Executive Director of the Cambridge Commission of People with Disabilities says, "Become more empowered! Report unshoveled sidewalks to the city website at www.cambridgema.gov/snow."

This year Cambridge is letting loose thirty-three Parking Enforcement Officers to prowl the streets and sidewalks checking for proper snow clearances. And they WILL ticket you -- $50 per day!

You have 12 hours to clear your sidewalks after the snow ends if it ends during the daytime. If it ends while it's still dark out, you have till 1PM the following day, and you have six hours to clear away ice.

Click the video link above for a short (3 1/2 mins) video with Laura and Michael and how they negotiate snow on their wheels.

Comments

Thanks for doing such a nice job on this story.

I've noticed an improvement in keeping sidewalks clear in my neighborhood, and neighbors helping neighbors this year. We still have our same old group of business (Petco) and residential property owners that ignore the safety of their neighbors. I've dropped at least a dozen electronic dimes on addresses around 02141 and they ALL still have the same or more ice that they had three weeks ago. I walk the area a lot and have only seen one building with tags. One of my neighbors who had shoveled out nicely was tagged.

When an address gets reported, do instructions automatically go out to check these locations out? Is there any monitoring of enforcement? How and how often are fines enforced? How does one dispute a ticket if it is issued in error?

I've only lived in Cambridge for thirty years, but I haven't ever noticed any effort on the city's part to enforce anything that means work by city staff and benefits the little guy.

Maybe it's just me...

from what I understand when an address gets reported it goes into a GPS system and they send one of the officers out. My bigger issue is that I shoveled 3 feet wide right after the last snow, but then the next day the snowplow came and dumped about 3 1/2 feet of snow over part of my sidewalk that I'd cleared. By this time it was heavy and icy and had dirt in it and I just could not dig it out again. So that part of my sidewalk has only a very narrow clearance. I also have a tree that crowds the sidewalk narrower than 3 feet. I don't know how you dispute a ticket, but my guess is that you have to deal with traffic and parking the same way as with a vehicle ticket. I will look into that. Thanks for your comments.
Margaret Desjardins
NeighborMedia 02138

I actually enjoy shoveling snow off my sidewalks. It's a very refreshing exercise.