After the weekend thaw and with a few inches of fresh snow in today’s forecast, residents of Schenectady and other urban areas with sidewalks will be given another chance to get winter right.
A good number of them flunked the first test, leaving snow on their sidewalks after two late-December storms blanketed the region with more than a foot. Anything that wasn’t cleared away within a day or two of the Dec. 29 storm was frozen by week’s end, making walking treacherous if not impossible. Not surprisingly a good many pedestrians took to the street, raising a whole different batch of safety issues.
People walking in the street in areas where there are perfectly good sidewalks has been a particularly nettlesome problem in Schenectady recently, such that last fall Councilman Vince Riggi even persuaded the police department to form a quality-of-life task force to address it, along with offenses like littering and obnoxiously loud car stereos. It’s not an unreasonable approach, as long as it doesn’t occupy too much of cops’ attention, but it’s pretty hard to expect pedestrians to stay out of the road when sidewalks are laden with ice and snow.
So maybe the task force — and the city’s code enforcement department — need to pay a little attention to sidewalk shoveling. After all, property owners are required by law to keep their sidewalks passable in winter, and if they don’t, the city is supposed to do the work and bill them. But when was the last time that happened, in Schenectady or anywhere else?
Of course this shouldn’t even be necessary: The able-bodied should live up to their responsibility, while the elderly and infirm should get an assist from neighbors. But just ignoring the problem and waiting for a thaw, or for spring, is unacceptable.