Clear the way: Residents, businesses reminded to shovel sidewalks

With the first snow of the year, Central Indiana residents and businesses owners are reminded that it’s both their legal and social responsibility to remove snow from their sidewalks.

In Indianapolis and many surrounding communities, city ordinances require homeowners and businesses to clear the sidewalks in front of and adjacent to their properties. In Indianapolis, the ordinance gives the occupant or owner of a building 10 to 14 hours after a snowfall to shovel the sidewalks or risk receiving a $50 fine.

While clear sidewalks might seem like a simple convenience to some, for many residents a pile of snow could keep them from getting to work, the grocery store, the doctor’s office and more. Plus, snowy sidewalks make it difficult to walk to school and/or the bus stop.

“Older adults or residents with disabilities can have their daily activities impeded by just a little bit of snow,” noted Kim Irwin, who leads Health by Design, a nonprofit coalition that advocates for neighborhoods, public spaces and transportation infrastructure that promote physical activity and healthy living. “When we have snow and/or ice, many people become virtually stranded and terribly isolated.”

Even young and able-bodied citizens who must or prefer to travel by public transit, foot or bicycle will be slowed and often put at risk if residents and business owners fail to clear snow from sidewalks.

“Health by Design and the Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit are asking all residents, businesses and community organizations to not only make sure they are helping their neighbors by clearing snow from sidewalks, but that they also try to be good neighbors by shoveling sidewalks for residents who might not be able to,” Irwin said. “Sure, the law requires it, but it’s also just the neighborly thing to do.”