City regulations almost always require that property owners shovel the snow from the sidewalks within a set time period. However, property owners may not always be required to shovel the ice-snow heaps on crosswalks at intersections. Even if the sidewalks are shoveled to the concrete, mobility problems can prevent pedestrians from crossing the heaps at intersections. For them, the shoveled sidewalks are no help and they must seek other transportation. All the tax money invested in making sidewalks accessible to people with disabilities is wasted for perhaps a quarter of the year.
A partial solution is planning to shovel the sidewalk intersections at future light rail stops. That way passengers with mobility problems will be able to travel on at least one block north, south, east and west. This is important to me because one friend got stuck with her wheelchair in a snow-ice heap, I saw one woman wheel her chair down the middle of the street because it was smoother than the sidewalk. When I was getting off of a bus I slipped, my shopping cart broke and my groceries went flying. Luckily none of my bones were broke.
Russ Stark, Ward Four St. Paul City Council Member, shares my views. He says, “I am an advocate for safe conditions for people of all ages and ability to be able to move around our community safely. I have been talking to Public Works about piloting additional city or Metro Transit efforts to clear corners at light rail stops, but there is no definite plan yet.”
In the future, should I be less mobile, I don’t want to be forced to stay home unless I can afford Metro Mobility or a taxi or I can find a ride. I want to be as independent as possible. If the corners at light rail stops are shoveled, I will go my own way, on my own schedule at least on the light rail year-round. To make certain Stark’s vision becomes a reality, people need to contact their mayor or council member and voice their concerns on winter access.
Linda Main, St. Paul
Editor’s note: Central Corridor or Green Line light rail will start operations on June 14, serving St. Paul and Minneapolis.