Meet Somerville’s Own Superhero

1201194007Winter in New England always tests the limits of the social contract. Whether it’s a neighbor blowing snow into your yard, or a crazy bastard guarding a parking spot with folding chairs and recycling bins, the inconsiderate behavior of others is magnified by the bad weather.

But one man in Somerville is fast becoming our hero for diffusing the tension before it escalates (via Somerville Journal).

Tom Gilbert got sick of watching the elderly and the handicapped summit huge snowbanks to get on the bus. Instead of starting a blog detailing the shameful conditions of Somerville’s bus stops, he got a pickaxe and a shovel and cleared the snow himself. He didn’t do it once. To date, he’s cleared 8-10 stops with a rigorous attention to detail.

He starts at the front bus stop sign because that’s where the bus kneels to allow wheelchairs get on or off. He cuts the ice at the curb with the pick and first shovels out the gutter and the side of the street so that the bus can pull in smoothly. Then he makes a 42-inch opening in the snow bank on the curb and shovels out an opening.

Wow. The city should consider buying him a superhero costume. Or at least buy him a nice lunch to thank him for helping those who can’t get around while city officials and the MBTA bickered like children.

So, whose job is it to clear snow from bus stops?

MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said it’s the city’s, as the T does not own the sidewalks.

City spokesperson Jaclyn Rossetti said it’s the property owners who are responsible for sidewalks directly abutting their property.

The city and the T have since reached an agreement. The city will clear the bus stops, except the ones with the glass shelters, which will be cleaned by the private company that owns them. But if they neglect their responsibilities, Gilbert will be there to chide them into it.

“If Canada can have clean bus stops, why can’t we?”

Indeed, Mr. Gilbert. Indeed.

PHOTO by Auditi Guha, Somerville Journal