Judging by conversations on Nextdoor and my own observations of nearby streets, there are a good number of property owners who do not shovel their sidewalks to remove snow. What levels of shoveling indicate the neighborhood takes collective ownership of the sidewalks? 50%? 67%? Over 75%? What fewer shoveled walkways might mean about a neighborhood and neighborliness:
- People do not walk outside much. If so, they would shovel more. Not shoveling makes it more difficult for pedestrians to get by. When the snow starts melting a bit and is trampled down, it becomes icy. I have observed numerous houses where the driveway is clear but not the sidewalks.
- There might be several socially acceptable reasons for not shoveling: illness, old age, and being away from home. Even then, it would be possible to arrange with others to have the sidewalks shoveled.
- Dog walkers might be the most interested people in shoveling (this could be tested): they are regularly walking and their dogs too could benefit from cleared sidewalks.
- Neighbors do not help neighbors shovel. This might require a lot of effort or not. On sidewalks near me, clearing out a one shovel wide width down multiple sidewalks would not take long (if the snow was not too deep). Or, I hear stories of people with snowblowers clearing a long stretch of sidewalks quickly.
- The best cleared sidewalks I see are the ones in neighborhoods with homeowners associations. Residents pay for the cleared snow, among other things.
Put these all together and there is a patchwork of cleared sidewalks mixed with uncleared sidewalks. Tomorrow, I will explore a related question: are the sidewalks a collective responsibility or the responsibility only of individual property owners?
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