Hey D.C., enforce the sidewalk snow-removal law.

Walking in the street because of unshoveled sidewalk, December 2009.

It almost feels dissonant to think of snow during our current, swamp-like, Summery September weather but Hyperlocal Glover Park’s post about snow removal is on point.

Whenever D.C. gets a big snow, an absurd hole in the District’s public-safety law reveals itself. Furious citizens demand that the hole be patched, and lawmakers promise to do so. Then the snow melts and people forget. The law is not fixed. Eventually, it snows again.

And when that happens, snow on unshoveled sidewalks quickly gets trodden down into hard packs, which then freeze into ice sheets that can last for weeks. The sidewalks become unsafe for small children, elderly people, and those with disabilities. People slip and break bones. People walk in the street and get hit by cars. People feel trapped at home for fear of injury.

Angry, frustrated citizens ask why there isn’t a law requiring residents to keep their sidewalks clear. But in fact, there is such a law. According to the D.C. Code (§9-601), anyone whose house fronts a public sidewalk must clear the sidewalk of snow or ice within eight daylight hours of the last flake’s falling.

The problem is, D.C. doesn’t enforce that law. Continue reading