Disclaimer: This is not a complaint about the hard-working people who plowed the streets for the City of Springfield during Snowpocalypse ’11. This is, instead, a complaint about all of us, i.e. our culture.
In case one needed proof that the car is king of the road — indeed, king of all transportation modes — one merely had to try to walk to work today. It wasn’t easy — even for the able-bodied. The blind? The infirm? The people on crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs? There was just no way this morning. Take a look at these photos I took on my longer route this morning.
And here is the route mapped. Normally, I go straight north on Fremont and hang a left on Grand, cross National and arrive at Craig Hall. Sidewalk all the way. Today I had take the other route — my snow route because I can walk on residential streets most of the way and avoid trudging through the snow and climbing over the snow piles — invariably located at the intersection of the road and the sidewalk — caused by the snow plows.
OK, yeah, gotta plow the streets. There’s no choice in the matter. But, really, do the plows have to leave piles in front of the sidewalk ramps? Is that really necessary?
My guess is that it is “necessary” in the sense that the urgency is to clear the streets for cars first. Plus, Springfield has an ordinance that urges homeowners to clear sidewalks traversing their property. I don’t think such rules work very well. I’ve only shoveled once in seven years — just the other day. No one has ever said anything to me about it. Snow usually doesn’t stick around long enough to need much shoveling.
While Snowpocalypse ’11 created a legitimate emergency (because it was a big event for us), it is typical for sidewalks, sidewalk intersections, and bus stops in my neighborhood and the surrounding MSU area to go uncleared even in fairly light snows. MSU does a good job of keeping sidewalks cleared — even along its borders on public streets. The school has no choice but to do so.
Question: How long will the sidewalks go uncleared?
Answer: As long as it takes for this snow to melt.
More snow showers are forecast through tonight and on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Temperatures are not expected to rise above the 30s until next weekend.
This neglect of our sidewalks and the people who walk on them has nothing to do with incompetence or uncaring. It has everything to do with our culture (which means it has the weight of common sense). In our culture the car/truck comes first. Ease of travel for car/truck drivers comes first. Nothing will change until that changes.
For more on this cultural phenomenon, re-visit my discussions of barrier streets.
UPDATE: On the walk home, I crossed National and Grand by my usual route. Here are the scenes from about 5:30 this afternoon.