Infrastructure Dec 28, 2021 at 3:05 pm

Congrats. You did nothing!



I look forward to the companion piece demonstrating that substantially more miles of unshoveled public sidewalks front owner-occupied single family homes. Bonus points for photos of Dan Savage's house.


I own a home. I'm not shoveling my sidewalk. Sorry, we are short staffed at the Gumbo household and our resources are already stretched thin. It's a few inches for a few days you goddamn able-bodied babies.


@2 - Sigh. I love how the shoveled walk, steps, and paths look in front of my house with the snow covering the ledges. Gives it a classy estate look.


@3 I think The Stranger needs to make Matt a new feature:

I, Eponymous. It features only submissions by Matt for Matt about whatever happened to make Matt cranky that day.

Whats the rotation for I Anonymous? Every few weeks? Once a month? That would be a more palatable speed for this dudes content.


@4 au naturale baby, like the good lord intended. If I am out shoveling snow that is more exertion on my body that puts more CO2 in the air which is more harm to the planet. Also ask me about my spring and summer lawn care tips!


I've found that with the current low temperatures, unless the sidewalk is spotless, you are better off walking on snow. The slippery parts of town are the areas where they shoveled it, but left a half inch of snow, which is now solid ice. It is very smooth, with no texture -- you can skate on it. You are better off walking next to the sidewalk, in the loose stuff. Even if people have walked there, at least it is lumpy (i. e. you can get good grip on it). If you add sand, kitty litter or salt, it does get better (but salt has negative environmental issues with it).

Things change when it warms up. That same little bit of ice/snow becomes slush, then drains away. You can reach the ground with each step. A walkway that isn't shoveled is just a big, slowly melting pile of slush, which soaks your feet, and is more slippery than bare ground (but not as slippery as a layer of ice).

If you are worried about walking around, I recommend Yak Traks. These add traction, but are relatively comfortable to use on bare ground. MicroSpikes will work as well, but they are overkill, and uncomfortable on bare ground.


@2 not everyone is able-bodied lol


Everyone in my neighborhood walks in the street, despite the commodious sidewalks. That's how we roll in South Seattle.


Thank you, Matt! I have mobility issues and had to get to medical appointments (necessary and time-sensitive to prevent the mobility issues from getting worse) and grocery shopping today. It was treacherous with the unshoveled sidewalks and unplowed streets. Anyone who grew up in a cold climate knows you shovel the sidewalks when it snows, multiple times if you have to when the snowfall happens over an extended period (which would address the issue @8 raises).

Seattle needs to get out of the mindset that it’s OK to completely shutdown for a week every other winter to avoid the inconvenience of having to plow and shovel a couple of inches of snow. We get snow accumulation too often to hide behind a “we don’t know what to do because we aren’t used to it” excuse.

@9 has it right. It’s social norms that need to change, not laws, enforcement, or penalties. Stop being so selfish and chip in to help your neighbors! If you’re the first person from your property to go out, take care of it, rather than waiting for someone else. We shouldn’t continue with the embarrassment of a city where every single block has properties that belong in the sidewalk hall of shame.


A big shout out to the guy clearing his front walk with a broom. Well done!

I would suggest using rock salt, but what to do when rock salt won't melt icy outdoor surfaces under 15 degrees Fahrenheit? I guess if nothing else it adds traction to treacherous skating rink level walking and driving conditions. We're fortunate to have local snow plows and maintenance guys at my building (I don't live in Seattle, however). Watch out for black ice.


Yaktrax, commonly worn by most USPS carriers can help those venturing out on foot, too.

Meanwhile, Kodiak, Alaska reported a record high temperature of 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Further proof that climate change is real. Welcome to weather extremes!


The city has solved the problem here in Arbor Heights — we don’t have sidewalks. You have to get out more, Matt …


The level of sanctimony is astounding. Preach Matt. Tell others how they should live their lives and what they should do. Shame them! Sounds just like the Catholic Church. So progressive.

And btw - are the owners responsible for clearing the homeless encampments too? If you think they should clear the snow for safety you sanctimonious twat then they should definitely clear the homeless for safety.


The problem is that many property owners apparently thought the snow would just melt away the next day so they just let it sit. But obviously it stayed cold and now there's a base layer of ice in many areas that can't just be easily pushed aside with a snow shovel.

The businesses around here have mostly been really good, they've had people out there with ice chippers, etc. It's the home and building owners that are the lazy ones. I guess they're busy playing with their xmas gifts or something.

Some sidewalks are way worse than others. People like @2 who claim "It's a few inches for a few days" just don't get it. It's not the snow, it's the ice that can be chunky in places and smooth in other places.


@18: One question, Bugs: Is Chicago snow dry and powdery or slippery when wet like it is here in the Pacific Northwest? The latter is mostly the problem. Western Washington snow isn't so bad when first coming down, and is quite pretty. It's once it has melted to slush and then frozen overnight, turning streets, sidewalks, county roads and freeways into a Skating Rink From Hell and causing multiple accidents that is making people freak out. Many of the locals, myself included, aren't used to below zero wind chill factor and summer heat wave temperatures in the triple digits.
Plenty of Eastern Washingtonians used to dry powder laugh at us out here, too-----and for some reason, they're usually the ones with their cars, SUVs, AWDs, and Ford F-450s in the collision repair shop every January, still puzzling while every body shop veteran from Vancouver to Blaine, WA along the I-5 corridor is making a bundle, chortling all the way to the bank.


I remember many days of trudging down sidewalks that were completely covered with snow plowed over them by street-clearing plows in Columbus, OH in the early 2000's. Drove me nuts. Clearly, car mobility was (and undoubtedly still is) prioritized over walkability there. Granted, there were fewer and smaller hills, but it was definitely not flat. Having a truly clear sidewalk during the winter there was a rare luxury. I wonder how folks with mobility issues get around in Ohio winters? They definitely can't rely on clear, ice-free sidewalks... Didn't think about it much as an able-bodied 20-something in college at the time.


The city, the landlord... How about the resident? Y'all just want to bang away on your keyboards instead of taking any kind of responsibility. Disgusting.


You know, I grew up on the coast in the south, and growing up there, you learn about what it is to live in a community. Because every time a hurricane would come through, that is when everyone came out and helped each other out regardless of who they were.

It seems like folks up here don't quite understand that when you move to a place you are agreeing to a social contract that everybody in some way or another pitches in to make the place you live a little bit better.
Making it a community.

You want to live in a utopia where everything goes your way, but you don't want to lift one finger to try and make that happen. You want someone else to do that for you. It doesn't work like that, it's never worked like that.

I prepared when I know the storm is coming, and I am busting my butt to make sure my sidewalks stay clear during the snow. It hurts, my body hates me, but I make sure it's done.

I had my older neighbor tell me when I was shoveling their walk to stop. I haven't shoveled their walk since, and their walk stays completely covered in snow and ice.

Someone above mentioned if you shovel the walk and someone trips and falls they can sue you. Here's the real deal. If you don't shovel the walk you can definitely be sued for negligence and they will win.

I know a lot of people hate next door app, but every single snow storm I have seen tens of people volunteering to go and shovel walks, for the elderly people and for the infirm. I have seen other folks offered to to shovel walks for a small fee. There's a totally economy right there and you can make a good amount of money doing it. Sure it's for a week, but damn it's money. Or you're just being a good neighbor.

If the very best you have to offer your community is the bare minimum? Please find somewhere else to live and let someone else that wants to contribute and make a good community move there.



In Chicago the freeze usually lasts a few months. But there may be temps over freezing. So one can end up with sheets of smooth ice in spots. It's also usually a foot or more of packed snow accumulated over weeks so you can ended up with just very uneven packed snow/ice and narrow walking trenches filled in at the end of the block by street plows. Gets really quite bad if just let go.

People, businesses, and governments spend a lot more mitigating that. Shopping complexes keep front loaders in their parking lots all winter. The swarm of snow handling vehicles at 8AM safety a snow is quite amazing.

But, really, every five or so years they get some worse weather that gets them all messed up for a few days or maybe a week.

And that weather and worse is handled with aplomb by cities in northern Canada, etc.

Because it just isn't practical to maintain the infrastructure to handle every once in five years weather event like an ordinary day.

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