Whose Responsibility Is it To Keep Our Sidewalks Clear?

franke james snow shovel image

All images credit Franke James

TreeHugger favourite Franke complains in one of her trademark photo essays that she is irked by unshovelled sidewalks. It is one of those contradictions, where the sidewalk is on city property. where we are not required to shovel the streets for cars, (the city has ploughs for that) but the sidewalks, for pedestrians, are the homeowners' responsibility. Franke famously does not own a car and walks everywhere, but I think her complaint is misdirected.

franke james snow shovel image

In her photo essay, Franke claims that walking doesn't get any respect. But from whom? Who's responsibility should it be? Why are the sidewalks, which coexist within the public road allowance, subject to different rules?

franke james snow shovel image

Franke thinks that perhaps people who shovel are nicer, kinder and more thoughtful. I disagree, I think we are saps for putting up with a system that gives priority to cars, that has snowploughs on the ready for them at a moment's notice. But for the old lady who doesn't drive and who might kill herself in a fall, she has to work her way up to the store relying on the kindness of strangers to go out and do the job that the City should be doing. It is their property and their responsibility.

franke james snow shovel image

No, Franke, I don't think they are selfish, they are human beings with other priorities, kids, hockey games, whatever. They work hard and they pay taxes so that the city will do things like clearing roads and filling potholes and keeping people moving- as long as they are in cars. Pedestrians don't get such support, and have to rely on a volunteer citizen workforce. It makes no sense; it's not their job.

See Franke's full photo essay here

More Franke James

Selling the SUV: Do the Hardest Things First
Franke James on Global Warming in Canada
Book Review: Bothered By My Green Conscience by Franke James
Paradise Unpaved: Franke James' Driveway One Year Later
No One Will Know Except You.

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