While a good number of Schenectady pedestrians might just as soon walk in the street as on sidewalks, it’s hard to believe that all of them are so foolish or disrespectful of the law. But when the sidewalks are covered with ice and snow, as they were after last weekend’s storm, people who want to get around by foot have no choice but to take their lives in their hands and hit the streets.
Part of the problem, as a story in yesterday’s Gazette outlined, is vacant property owned by the city, taken through recent foreclosures. In the story, Mayor Gary McCarthy indicated that city workers who were busy cleaning out clogged intersections on Monday would start shoveling out those sidewalks yesterday. That’s good news as far as it goes, but McCarthy needs to go further. So do other cities in the region where property owners don’t fulfill their obligation to keep sidewalks clear.
Snow in this region is common enough in winter — every winter — that there can be no excuses for taking the Erastus Corning approach to snow and ice: waiting for warm weather. Whether it’s a few inches or a foot, municipalities have to make clear to their residents right from the first snowfall that if they don’t do the job, the city will do it for them (and bill them).
That’s the real “common sense” approach when dealing with a safety issue like this — not the hands off advocated by McCarthy until residents adjust to the realities of snow removal.
Giving scofflaws a break in this fashion when the mandatory recycling law took effect decades ago is how the city wound up with a dismally low recycling rate — and tipping fees hundreds of thousands of dollars higher every year than they otherwise would be. Lax enforcement encourages noncompliance.