Clearing snow from sidewalks and bus stops

Snow Pic 1
Sidewalk and bus stop snow clearance
A major snowstorm hit the New York area, and you know what that means – time to head out and take pictures of unshoveled sidewalks, crosswalk ramps, and bus stops. (see above)
In New Jersey, as in most of the country, sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the abutting property owner. This responsibility extends to snow clearance. Many municipalities have ordinances that requires sidewalks to be cleared with 6-12 hours of the cessation of snowfall. An exception is in areas where Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) take care of this chore in downtown areas.
Relying on property owners leads to varying results. Sidewalks past vacant lots may not be shoveled at all. Sidewalks on bridges and past public property such as parks, waterfronts and open space are also problematic. Bridges are often critical links across otherwise impassable barriers (rivers, highways) and need to be given heightened priority by snow clearance crews.
For bus transit riders, snow events are particularly challenging. Sidewalks must be clear along the rider’s entire walking path from their home to the bus stop – a single unshoveled block can present an insurmountable barrier to an elderly person. Then, once at the stop, the rider must have a clear path to the curb. Unfortunately, plows often create a mound of snow and ice between the sidewalk and the curb – take a look at this bus shelter with snow plowed into it. It was still like this three days after the storm.
Snow Pic 3
In these situations bus stops need to be shoveled out manually by the responsible agency. In New Jersey, bus stop maintenance and clearance is a municipal responsibility.
Here are some resources on sidewalk and bus stop snow clearance policy:

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Info Center has model snow removal policies
walkBoston wrote a report on sidewalk snow clearance policy.
Milwaukee specifically addresses snow clearance around select bus stops. Clearance is done by muncipal DPW employees after the roads have been plowed.
Metro Area Transit in Fargo, ND contracts out bus stop snow clearance, which occurs within 24hrs of a snowfall event.
In the Boston area, clearance of bus stops varies by who is responsible for bus stop and shelter maintenance – MBTA, the municipality where the stop is located, or a private contractor.
The Federal Highway Administration requires snow removal from federally-funded sidewalks.
Peter Bilton, AICP/PP
Civic Eye Collaborative
direct: 732-993-9612
main: 732-523-1460
twitter: @peterbilton

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