The importance of sidewalk accessibility: ‘Do the right thing’

The importance of sidewalk accessibility: ‘Do the right thing’
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 6:01 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - It has been an ongoing battle over the past several days to ensure that the roadways are clear for drivers to safely get around, but in a city that preaches the importance of walkability, some responsibility falls on homeowners to ensure their sidewalks are clear for pedestrians.

“Do the right thing, be a good neighbor, help someone out if they need help,” said Matt Tobias, Neighborhood Revitalization manager for the city of Sioux Falls.

Given the way that this most recent storm developed, with the snow not completely stopping until last night, city officials are providing a little extra leeway.

City ordinance in Sioux Falls states that property owners are required to clear sidewalks within 48 hours of snow or ice accumulation; however, they are giving homeowners until Monday before acting on any complaints that have been submitted.

A complaint can be submitted on your sidewalk based on how well it’s been cleared. If a complaint is submitted regarding your sidewalk, the city will notify you by phone call or a door hanger.

Twenty-four hours after that, if the sidewalk hasn’t been cleared a $100 citation will be issued and a contractor will clear it, which you also will be charged for.

“A lot of people are walking to and from neighborhoods. There are kids walking to bus stops,” said Tobias. “So it’s very important that we enforce that ordinance because people have to get around if they don’t have a car.”

While it may just feel like a courtesy to clear your sidewalk, Corey Camp, the Director of Rise Customs Solutions, says it’s essential.

“When sidewalks aren’t cleared, when they don’t have access to a bus stop or driveways or anything else, it either creates a significant challenge for them. Or in some cases, unfortunately, prohibits them from getting where they need to go,” said Camp.

And it goes beyond just having it cleared, it needs to be down to the pavement, edge-to-edge

“You’ll see some salt on the sidewalk, and that’s what it’s going to take sometimes,” said Tobias.

“With all of our mobility needs, obviously traction is a big deal, so when that’s not clear it just creates more havoc for them,” said Camp. “The patients that we work with are very resilient. They’re incredible people that know how to navigate life despite challenges that they face, but throwing a snowstorm at them just adds to the complexity.”

Putting a little extra effort into clearing your sidewalk can really make someone else’s life just a little bit easier.