This has been an unusually cold winter. We have learned what a polar vortex is, and had more school snow days than my 30-something memory can recall. The winters of recent past had cold and snowy days, but there was always a break when temperatures would rise and the snow would melt. These thaws helped make the winter months feel shorter and cleared much of the snow from our sidewalks. This winter’s constant cold has highlighted an ongoing challenge: to keep our city walkable, even in the winter months.
When the sidewalks are covered with six inches or more of snow, pedestrians tend to walk in the street. Among them are elementary school children walking to and from their bus stops; disabled or senior individuals who have challenges walking under the best of weather conditions; and those who use public transportation. Walking in the streets is dangerous and a public safety issue.