Boston Daily’s Shoveling Etiquette

Dear Homeowners, Property Managers, and other tenders of sidewalks,

1197038250Happy Friday, everyone. We hope you’ve had a nice week. Wasn’t that snow on Monday something? It got us motivated to finally write our Christmas cards. That is, until we had to run an errand Monday night and nearly died on the slick ice left on your sidewalks. Somehow, that took the holiday spirit, not to mention our balance, right out of us.

Maybe we lost our Christmas cheer because those of you who didn’t properly clear your sidewalks failed to exhibit that “good will toward man” thing that’s so popular this time of year. Now you’re whining that the city has issued fines for your negligence.

Some city residents are giving ISD the cold shoulder.

Marie McDonough, 53, of Roslindale, is contesting her fine.

“The thing that irks us is that we always shovel,” the homeowner said. “If I was one of those people who never shoveled, I’d deserve it. But it was the first snowstorm of the season. It was like an inch of snow and it was frustrating because they didn’t send out a warning (about the shoveling).”

Marie, are you one of those people who complained when your car got towed for street cleaning, despite the sign that clearly states when the city requires you to move your vehicle? Because here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter how much it snows—you’re responsible for clearing your sidewalk.

Though the year’s first snowfall barely sprinkled the city, Mackan said it’s important to shovel right away to avoid a vicious circle of melting ice and snow. “Often if you don’t shovel after the first storm you never recover,” he said. “If you get back-to-back storms, the snow piles up and ices over.”

“Sometimes people get surprised,” [City Councilor John Tobin] said. “They think this is just a dusting, but it becomes a sheet of ice. We have a high senior citizen population, so I would urge people to take a little extra time to help them out and clear the sidewalks.”

For those of you who are like Marie and forgot to shovel, we’d like to review the proper procedure for clearing your sidewalks for pedestrian traffic. Print this out and put it by the door to avoid that $15 fine next time.

  1. Buy a shovel and some rock salt.
  2. Check the weather forecast.
  3. If the forecast calls for a large accumulation, plan your time wisely. By shoveling every couple of hours, you’ll spare yourself the agony of lifting a foot of snow at once.
  4. For small accumulations, you can wait until the snowfall stops. You have four hours after the snow stops to clear all of the sidewalks that abut your property.
  5. Once all the snow is removed, please toss down some rock salt. Black ice from a small amount of snow melt was a big problem on Monday, and we were grateful for those who exercised some forethought.
  6. Look out at your safe sidewalk, and know you are a kind soul.

If you find an unshoveled sidewalk, Boston residents can call (617) 635-4500 to report it.

We hope you will all learn something from this post since it sounds like it’s going to snow some more this weekend. If you don’t and we fall down, you’ll be hearing from our lawyers.

Boston Daily