It’s been proven that walking is good for your health both physical and mental. More and more research is showing the importance of getting out of our chairs and going for a walk. Some people have no choice but to walk or use a wheelchair to get from place to place. It has also been found that home values increase in areas that are considered “walkable”. To accommodate these needs, Kalamazoo Township has been working on creating a network of sidewalks and multi-use trails.
The question that we need your help to answer is, how do you keep them clear and accessible in winter? In winter it may be even more critical to have clear sidewalks because of the additional hazard of walking on the road when it’s slick or slushy and daylight is limited and students need to get to school early in the morning.
Currently the Township has an ordinance that requires everyone with a sidewalk to keep it clear 500 feet in either direction from a bus stop. This isn’t proving to be practical because having clear sections interspersed with uncleared sections doesn’t get people safely from one place to another. It also means equipping the ordinance officer with a new map each year showing all sidewalks and each bus stop from three different school districts and the transit system. Simply keeping all the sidewalks clear seems more logical but most of us have lived in Michigan long enough to know that isn’t always a simple task and it’s harder for some than others.
Below are some ideas that have come from other communities and organizations for keeping sidewalks accessible that might be used alone or more likely in combination. Please let us know if you think any of these might work in your neighborhood. Do you know how other communities have handled this situation successfully and how it was paid for? Do you have a creative solution we haven’t considered yet? We’d love to hear how you think this challenge can be solved.
- The Township could buy the equipment and pay their maintenance staff to clear the sidewalks
- The Township could hire a contractor to clear the sidewalks
- The Township could have an ordinance to make everyone responsible for the sidewalk in front of their house. (How would you suggest enforcing such an ordinance?)
- Neighbors could help neighbors keep their sidewalks clear
- People could pay the person that plows their driveway to clear their sidewalk as well,
- People could see if they can get a discount by having several neighbors hire the same plowing service
- People could organize a group of volunteers that the elderly or disabled could call on to clear their sidewalks
- Service groups could organize to clear sidewalks and people that can could give them donations for their organization or other good cause.
- People could pay their neighbor kid to do it and help him or her get started in their own little business and saving money for college expenses.
- Neighbors could start a community tool shed that includes a snow blower and have everyone sign up for a time to be responsible for the sidewalks on their block
Please send your suggestions to email@example.com with “Clear Sidewalks” in the subject line.