If you get around by foot, bicycle or wheelchair in the winter in Northampton, Massachusetts, you've probably noticed that it can get difficult after a snowstorm.
The priorities of our city are still heavily weighted toward automobile traffic. The Department of Public Works has been instructed to clear some of the bikeways in town, but many of the essential connections from bikeway to street and key shortcuts are ignored, leaving those of us who travel by foot or bike to fend for ourselves.
The streets are cleared quickly by the DPW after a storm, and the sidewalks are cleared by property owners. City ordinance requires property owners to clear the sidewalks on their property, but many don't or can't, and they are only required to clear the sidewalk 24 hours after a storm has ended. By that time, any sidewalk with significant foot traffic can become a rutted, icy mess. One of our tasks is to work with the city and the police to increase enforcement of the sidewalk clearing laws and to help those who can't clear their sidewalks.