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Winter Walking and Cycling
(01-18-2018, 06:50 PM)danbrotherston Wrote: Why is a 24/7 sidewalk clearing service so ridiculous an idea.  We do it for roads...which are an order of magnitude larger.  Yet we can't for sidewalks?

I think the problem is magnitude of injury.

Advocates always use the excuse "but cars are so dangerous because they're heavy, that's why I can break the rules when I walk or bike, because I'm light and won't hurt anyone or get hurt" - well, now that same argument explains exactly why it's important to keep the road clear.

People don't generally die if a little bit of snow is on the ground.  But people do if the roads aren't clear.
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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(01-18-2018, 08:01 PM)Canard Wrote:
(01-18-2018, 06:50 PM)danbrotherston Wrote: Why is a 24/7 sidewalk clearing service so ridiculous an idea.  We do it for roads...which are an order of magnitude larger.  Yet we can't for sidewalks?

I think the problem is magnitude of injury.

Advocates always use the excuse "but cars are so dangerous because they're heavy, that's why I can break the rules when I walk or bike, because I'm light and won't hurt anyone or get hurt" - well, now that same argument explains exactly why it's important to keep the road clear.

People don't generally die if a little bit of snow is on the ground.  But people do if the roads aren't clear.

I'd argue the magnitude of the injury is the same when sidewalks aren't clear.  Most seriously, people are trapped in their homes, that's an inconceivably bad outcome for many people in our society.  Those who do go out face dangers as well, some are forced to walk on roads.  We've already had one person hit (and subsequently charged) for walking on the road this year, who knows if he was forced onto the road by an uncleared sidewalk, neither the media, nor the police seem to have asked that question.

And icy uncleared sidewalks aren't safe for able bodied people either.  Alberta, where sidewalks usually aren't cleared, sees triple the rates of injury from slips and falls as Ontario.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/al...-1.4460651

And as for clearing, you're right, main roads need to be cleared for safety, residential streets, not so much, nobody's getting killed there, they're just forced to go very slowly and occasionally getting stuck.  When the city does a full plow of my street, I'm always disappointed because traffic speeds go from 30-35 km/h back up to 50-55 km/h.

I'm sure that many people believe the point you make, but I don't believe the data backs it up.

But even if it was, it doesn't negate the fact that mobility is a human right, and failing to clear sidewalks is a violation of that right.


And I'm sure you aren't meaning it this way, but that reasoning moves towards the "us vs. them" rhetoric which is so destructive.  Nobody who is arguing for sidewalk clearing is suggesting we don't clear roads (Except for my street Tongue).

We're a wealthy society, and a wealthy city, plenty of other cities manage it, there's simply no excuse for not clearing sidewalks and also roads.  It frustrates me when city councillors like mine argue that it would be near-impossible.  We already clear roads, sidewalks are small beans by land area.

And certainly there is no economic argument for not doing so.  Our current policy is nearly pessimal.  It costs us the most, that is, everyone's labor (or what they pay for other's labor) costs us the maximum amount, because there is no benefit of scale, everyone does one short section of sidewalk.  For the minimum benefit, which is most sidewalks are still blocked with snow.  Municipal clearing would almost certainly save money.
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(01-18-2018, 06:50 PM)danbrotherston Wrote:
(01-18-2018, 06:39 PM)embe Wrote: Trying to get my head around the expectation for plowing snow off the sidewalks and how it would be much different than what's currently being done at the bus stops (that a lot of people are speaking negatively about).  

Are the proponents envisioning a 24/7 sidewalk clearing service that scrapes right to the concrete and does multiple passes a day to keep it clear?  I'll tell you now that's not gonna happen.  

I'd actually picture it being worse, since most people would no longer bother clearing their sidewalks, since hey, the sidewalk plow (that we're all paying for) will be coming by... eventually....

Why is a 24/7 sidewalk clearing service so ridiculous an idea.  We do it for roads...which are an order of magnitude larger.  Yet we can't for sidewalks?

Also, all the data shows that the current situation is entirely broken, you cannot walk a substantial distance without encountering a blocked sidewalk, but every road in the city is clear.

This idea that just because a few sidewalks are immaculate, that sidewalk clearing is good must end.  Sidewalks are used for more than just running to your neighbours house.

And what's being done at bus stops is a choice, to hold them to a very low standard.

I didn't say it was ridiculous, just trying to understand what the expectation is of the service.  It is however, hyperbole to say the roads are "clear".  Sure they've been plowed, but as of today (a few day after significant snow) there are still some streets that are marginal.  If the sidewalks were plowed with the same attention to detail, similar method, similar results, a lot of people using sidewalks (kids, elderly, physically impaired, able bodied, etc.) might still have difficulty. 

I've been in communities where the sidewalk plowing is done.  Reality is some people who had previously shoveled their sidewalk (as soon as possible), just stopped doing it since "the plow will be coming by eventually".
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(01-18-2018, 09:23 PM)embe Wrote:
(01-18-2018, 06:50 PM)danbrotherston Wrote: Why is a 24/7 sidewalk clearing service so ridiculous an idea.  We do it for roads...which are an order of magnitude larger.  Yet we can't for sidewalks?

Also, all the data shows that the current situation is entirely broken, you cannot walk a substantial distance without encountering a blocked sidewalk, but every road in the city is clear.

This idea that just because a few sidewalks are immaculate, that sidewalk clearing is good must end.  Sidewalks are used for more than just running to your neighbours house.

And what's being done at bus stops is a choice, to hold them to a very low standard.

I didn't say it was ridiculous, just trying to understand what the expectation is of the service.  It is however, hyperbole to say the roads are "clear".  Sure they've been plowed, but as of today (a few day after significant snow) there are still some streets that are marginal.  If the sidewalks were plowed with the same attention to detail, similar method, similar results, a lot of people using sidewalks (kids, elderly, physically impaired, able bodied, etc.) might still have difficulty. 

I've been in communities where the sidewalk plowing is done.  Reality is some people who had previously shoveled their sidewalk (as soon as possible), just stopped doing it since "the plow will be coming by eventually".

I know of no roads which are "marginal" right now, perhaps some cul-de-sacs around town are, but the one near me is bare pavement.  Also, if you look at the sidewalks that the city already clears, most are actually very good, better than many homeowners, the only exceptions are where the pavement is particularly poor, like that the railway tracks near my house.

So yes, it is possible that some sidewalks wouldn't be perfect, and this may be difficult for people who have mobility problems, but it would impede them far less than the every 10th or every 20th house that is completely uncleared.  Remember, it does not matter how the best sidewalks are, it only matters what the weakest links are.

I have also lived in a city with sidewalk clearing, and yes, people (including me) complained about the quality of the clearing.  That being said, those complaints were about day of, or day after clearing, by a few days past a storm, plows would have cleared all sidewalks (to the degree that they are passable), even ones which didn't get cleared well enough on the first pass.  This is a state we NEVER reach in our system.

I honestly do not care if people stop shovelling their sidewalks, I don't even see a reason for them to do so, it's a waste of effort.  It's a minor convenience that every fifth home on my street is cleared the morning of a storm, the real problem is when I get to the main road, and still only ever fifth property is clear.  The fact is, even immediately after a snowfall things would be substantially better.  Walking to work, the day of a snowfall, even main roads have mostly uncleared sidewalks, but city street plows have been out.  If we had sidewalks held to the same standards, major roads and bus routes would be clear almost immediately during a storm.

This is opposed to now, which is a system with no priority, a road like Columbia where thousands of students walk to school doesn't see most sidewalks cleared until the evening (at best, some homes on that street never ever clear their sidewalks).  Worse, that road has a curbface sidewalk, which often gets covered back up by the plow (and then stays covered indefinitely again).  Having the city do it would allow synchronization between road plows and sidewalk plows.
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Right here in Waterloo Region we have an example of municipal sidewalk plowing. And it appears to work satisfactorily.

Woolwich Township hires a private contractor on a multi year basis to clear the sidewalks in a few communities, including what I believe is the majority of Elmira. I'm not clear on the full extent of the contract, nor privy to the terms therein.

The Township then recovers the cost from the beneficiaries through a separate line item on the property taxes. I think there's some multi year averaging applied. For my home on a garden variety suburban lot I think it's like $60 per year.

The level of service is pretty good. The walks are kept clear enough that folks can walk their dogs, get the mail from the community box, kids can walk to school, and so on. The response during recent snow events has been good. I can hear the plows rattling around the neighborhood early in the morning.

Service complaints are directed to the Township. I've seen comments from Township representatives in the local paper indicating satisfaction with the current contractor, who is performing better than the previous contractor.

I'm happy with the arrangement, it costs me little, I don't have to clear the sidewalk before I go to work in the morning and the uniform decent condition around the neighborhood is a community good.
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