Curb service: Shovel your sidewalk -- no excuses

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Talk about your shovel-ready projects.

All over the city of Pittsburgh, sidewalks are waiting for shovel blades to reveal their long-buried concrete surfaces, but a decision by the city to start enforcing its sidewalk-clearing ordinance has triggered a big blow-back.

Plenty of residents are asking why they should have to clear their walkways when (1) the city took too long to clear the streets, (2) the city still hasn't shoveled in front of hundreds of properties it owns and (3) the neighbors aren't shoveling either.

The questions about the city's performance are justified, but that doesn't absolve homeowners from doing their part. In other words, two wrongs don't make a right.

Now there certainly are homeowners who cannot clear their own walkways because age or infirmity prevents it, and they may have neither relatives and friends who can help nor the means to hire someone to tackle the job. When Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced the city would start issuing citations Monday, he took note of that and urged "young people to get out there and help your elderly neighbors. Oftentimes, our seniors are our most conscientious residents, and we must pitch in to help them clear sidewalks." City firefighters also are helping. Residents in need of assistance may call the city's 311 help line.

In many instances, though, there's no good reason for sidewalks to be left unshoveled. It's not a job that most people enjoy, and most residents are sick of snow at this point, but the responsibilities of homeownership extend beyond the threshold.

Besides, while people are out there shoveling, they'll have plenty of time to complain with the neighbors about the city's performance on clearing the streets.


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