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Dodging cars in a winter wonderland

Posted by Rona Fischman January 7, 2011 01:40 PM

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When I wrote about snow shoveling last week, Franksmartin found my blind spot. I was only thinking about the work of shoveling. Part of what blinded me is the sheer labor of manual shoveling. Thatís my excuse, and Iím sticking with it.

I said: ďSome towns donít have sidewalks. Thatís another plus for homeowners this time of year.Ē I neglected the problems caused by lack of safe walking space.

franksmartin wrote:

"And, as far as not having sidewalks - we don't have sidewalks and it's impossible to walk down the street in the winter. The roads in my immediate neighborhood are narrow and winding and the snow is piled high. There isn't much room for cars; pedestrians risk their life and limb. I would happily clean a sidewalk to be able to venture out safely. "

Franksmartin is right that walkability is affected by lack of sidewalks. I talk about this with clients who are looking in places where there are no sidewalks. It is especially bad on hilly and winding roadways. I failed to consider the problem of no sidewalks when compounded by snow. I recognize my blindspot and will make an effort to keep both eyes open.

Is it better to have sidewalks or not?

On a related topic, uncleared sidewalks are the bane of walkers.

This weekend, I had a long talk with a 90-something-year old relative of mine. She said that uncleared sidewalks -- especially where she had no access to the street from the sidewalk, so she couldnít cross -- had kept her indoors between Christmas and the New Year. She was getting cabin fever already. She lives in a suburban town with sidewalks.

Starting last year, in Cambridge and now in Somerville, there is an award for the best shoveled street in town. Who is judging, the post office! Thereís a job where you get to know how well the sidewalks are cleared!

Are uncleared sidewalks getting in your way, already, this winter? Do you think the fines for not shoveling are fair? Should they be higher? Do you have a nominee for the best sidewalks? Should we post a wall of shame?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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