Icy sidewalks are unacceptable

Story by Bridget Cooke, Staff Writer

Mr. Rogers was right. About everything. He always taught us to be nice. To be a “neighbor” if you will. So under his influence it is important to carry out a crusade that he would have condoned, even lead the troops if he were able.

Shoveling. It is Wisconsin, and for some unknown reason, no one outside of the university can seem to care for one another when it comes down to safety from winter weather.

Students trudge through snow, ice and slush to get to classes, walking on sidewalks that are supposed to be cleared (by an ordinance of the city, by the way, so it’s a law) but are not.

There are countless stories of residents within the city of Eau Claire who have needed surgery as the result of a misstep on a city sidewalk where a patch of ice was the downfall.

Students have fallen and rolled their ankles, even slipped down the hill during the nighttime, slipping and sliding their way to the library.

Faculty have slipped and been on crutches, while other staff has even had muscle tears resulting in required surgery in order to regain use of
their limbs.

This should not be a regular occurrence. It takes away work time for employees, class time for students and personal time for everyone.
There is much stress equated to being injured and unable to take care of oneself because you are not at 100 percent.

Why is it then that the city does not seem to enforce the legality issue of forcing people to take care of the six feet of concrete outside their homes?

Ordinance no. 13.20.010 states that “cleaning of snow and ice required. Sidewalks must be cleared of snow and ice within 24 hours after snowfall.”

In the event that residents do not follow this rule, the city will do the job and fine them accordingly for the work and the disregard for public safety.

This is all well and good, but in reality, how is the city going to be able to produce enough man hours and budget to send workers out to every home on every street to shovel all the sidewalks. All the sidewalks.

The city even makes it easy on people’s budgets. They provide a free sand-salt mixture at the Public Works Department, the central maintenance center north of downtown.

This helps gain traction for ice-coated sidewalks, something that is obviously desperately necessary given current weather conditions. They even offer up to five pounds per trip and it is available at any hour residents are able to pick it up.

So there’s the loophole. A wishy-washy attempted threat that has never yielded any results through word of mouth.

All of these people have zero reason to help out besides being kind to their fellow man.

And faced with a $70 fine that may or not actually happen, clearly this is not enough of a penalty to push people into action. Unfortunately, this is apparently not enough motivation to contribute to
public safety.

In this case, it has to be asked, won’t you be my neighbor? Because no one appreciates a broken tailbone, or a sprained ankle, or a broken wrist. So be neighborly and clear off the damn sidewalk.