30 December 2011

Sidewalks you can walk on!

The Columbia Missourian recently reported about a plan by the City of Columbia to clarify and better enforce Code of Ordinances Section 24-12. That section makes it a misdemeanor for property owners in the City to not clear their sidewalks of snow. The new ordinance if adopted by the City Council in January would define priority areas that - if not shoveled within 48 hours and reported by a citizen as a hazard - would trigger city action. That action will be communication that the sidewalk segment must be cleared or the owner will face a fine related to the City clearing the snow itself. You know the phrase 'Good enough for government work"? Yeah? You don't want to inadvertently 'hire' the city to clear your sidewalks for you. Just do the right thing and get out there when the snow is done falling.

As someone who walks somewhere every day (Just like you do, right? Just like everybody does.) I welcome the clarification and enforcement of Section 24-12. Anyone can tell you that walking in the summer, spring and fall is much easier than winter walking. Come the winter months snow, ice and debris fill our bike lanes and sidewalks. Some homeowners and renters do clear their sidewalks but most don't. The worst winter 'neighbors' to a pedestrian and a bicyclist are those business owners who hire a crew to clear their parking lot only to have that crew store the plowed snow on, you guessed it, the sidewalks nearest the parking lot.

Pedestrians of St. Peters. Pray for us.

All in all this is far better than things seem to be in St. Peters, Missouri. A major advantage of Columbia is that destinations exist near home that are walkable and bikable. When I stayed with my aunt and uncle in my hometown of St. Peters earlier this week I went running in the morning. There were plenty of people who had chosen a personal vehicle. I saw nary a walker or bicyclist on my 35-minute trot. Does nobody in my hometown (Population 52,575) walk or bike to work? I understand that residents of larger metro areas do have longer commutes since they reside within a many-county labor basin as opposed to near a regional labor center that has multiple employer destinations close to most housing. But no one? I had the sidewalks to myself as I usually do when I visit my suburban-ancestral-homeland. In all fairness it is the holidays when more folks are on vacation.

When I asked him whether the City of St. Peters encourages biking and walking my Uncle - a longtime City of St. Peters resident - explained to me that "We really do hate bike riders here." It seems they ride in the street and that burns him up. It seems plenty-plenty opportunities for education remain on both sides of the handlebars and the steering wheels.

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