March 4, 2014

Editorial: Traffic danger needs addressing

The City of Plattsburgh long ago recognized the danger in allowing sidewalks to be left mounded with snow after a storm.

Pedestrians would either have to slog their way through an unshoveled sidewalk or expose themselves to the peril of sharing passage with vehicles in the plowed streets.

To further compound the problem, think of the handicapped pedestrian trying to get from here to there on unshoveled walks. It requires little imagination to foresee the frightening results of letting that condition persist.

So the city initiated a program whereby, after a snowstorm, if property owners fail to clear their sidewalks, the City Department of Public Works will do the work for them and charge them for it.

Some residents have complained that they are physically not able to shovel their sidewalks, either by virtue of age or infirmity, and should not be held to the requirements of such a law. Others insist they can’t afford the expense.

It’s obvious, though, that the results of not enforcing this law could be far worse than the loss of a few dollars to get the sidewalk shoveled.

We’ve noticed several times this winter, after a snowstorm, that property owners along Route 3 inside and outside the city have not always cleared a path for pedestrians, forcing the pedestrians into the road. If this situation is dangerous in relatively slow-moving city traffic, imagine the mayhem that could occur on busy, bustling Route 3.

We’ve even seen bicyclists trying to compete with cars for space on the roadway after a storm. Vehicles are typically traveling at 40 mph or faster, though the speed limit is a still-brisk 35 mph. Bicycles on slippery, snowy roads are no match for a car or truck. Pedestrians are overmatched.

The Town and City of Plattsburgh are not the only communities with this conundrum, of course. As a matter of fact, a column appeared in the Albany Times Union earlier this week commenting on an identical situation in Troy.

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