Posts Tagged ‘commuting’

With an arriving winter storm coming on the heels of one just a week ago I’m finding it difficult to navigate large stretches of the city’s sidewalks because many residents and businesses have failed to clear their sidewalks.

This is of particular concern because I use public transit to get to and from work almost exclusively.  While I never mind a brisk winter walk, such walks become dangerous when snow-packed sidewalks turn to ice.  Even a light dusting of snow or blowing snow over ice covered sidewalks creates potential danger.  Walking in the street, although much easier, should not be advised.

This year I decided to look into why certain sidewalks remain snow packed and icy winter after winter.

My commute to work on public transit takes me to the Easton area where sidewalk clearing is apparently not addressed whatsoever.  Morse Crossing, Easton Way and Stelzer Road are the streets along which COTA’s service operates.  The majority of pedestrian traffic is along Morse Crossing to and from COTA routes 16 and 95.   (The New Albany Express #40 travels along Stelzer where the land is currently undeveloped).

I contacted Easton management to get some information since the strip malls, hotels and restaurant along Morse Crossing are demarcated by the brick pylons with the Easton “E” carved into them.

Easton management stated that each business along Morse Crossing is responsible for clearing the sidewalks adjacent to their property as stated in the City Code.  I stopped by a couple merchants to see what they knew about this.

At Pier One, which sits on the large corner lot at Morse Crossing and Gramercy Street, I was given contact information to the corporate offices in Ft. Worth.  When I called and explained the situation I was first asked if there had been an injury.  I said that there hadn’t been, but as a transit/pedestrian commuter, I was concerned about the conditions.  I was then asked to describe the sidewalks.

“They are the concrete walkways that parallel the two streets.”  The woman at corporate said she’d look into the situation but did not offer to follow up.

I also contacted the Marriott Hotels as one of their properties sits on a large corner lot at Morse Crossing and Easton Way.  Within a few hours I was contacted by the hotel manager.  The manager responded to my inquiry with these words:

“I appreciate your suggestion but would be remised if I did not note that our parking lot is not an access route to the bus stop behind the hotel.  The sidewalks on the exterior of our landscaping are city sidewalks and should be used for getting to the bus stop.  The walks on our property only lead to the building and to the back parking lot.  The only way to get to the bus stop through our lot is by trampling through our landscaping which is not acceptable.”

He seemed to miss the point all together – that being that pedestrians might be walking through this parking lot precisely because the sidewalks surrounding this Marriott are not shoveled, nor have they for the three winters that I’ve been commuting by public transit.

Today I stopped by Chase Bank, also on the corner of Morse Crossing and Gramercy Street.  I introduced myself to the branch manager and asked if he was making plans to have the sidewalks cleared around his facility.  I explained that as a commuter I was concerned with navigating the now ice-packed sidewalks and that with the increase in bus service and ridership, I was concerned for my fellow pedestrians.

The Chase branch manager told me that he was of the belief that their lease lines did not include the public sidewalks.  “The sidewalks,” he said, “belong to the City.”
“Yes,” I replied.  “Just like the sidewalks in front of my house, for which I have the same responsibility.”  He was gracious and understanding and said he’d contact Easton management to learn more.

It’s not just the sub-urban locations where sidewalks go un-shoveled, but it is the most prevalent location to find an unfriendly pedestrian environment   Along portions of High Street downtown one can find business which fail to properly clear their sidewalks, and this is Columbus’ central business district.

While Columbus City Code states that it is a requirement for property owners to clear the adjacent sidewalks of snow, I am not aware of how or if the City enforces this code.  Is $100 the only penalty for non-compliance?  How is that $100 collected?

If you know the answer, please let us know.

In the mean time, however, I enlisted the help of a local graphic designer to make a little something that we can all use in our neighborhoods and along our streets.  Available in both English and Spanish, this printable door hanger offers neighbors a gentle reminder that it is their responsibility to clear snow from their sidewalks.

Simply click, print, fold or cut, then cut along the noted lines so that it’ll fit over a doorknob and voila’! (It’s a full-sized .pdf of the image to the right).

As with most Columbus challenges, things here work best when we work with each other – and perhaps this door hanger will be a way to get the conversation started where you live and along the streets where you walk.

Read Full Post »