Snow-Covered Sidewalks Pose Extra Problems for People with Disabilities

Feb 17, 2016

Credit freeimages.com/Anders Wiuff

For people with disabilities, navigating the sidewalks following a big snow storm can be less problematic than trying to operate a wheelchair in just a bit of snow or slush.

That's because the city of Rochester clears sidewalks if four or more inches of snow falls.  It's up to residents to remove snow from sidewalks with less than four inches of snow, and the city this year reminded residents about that policy.

But Stephanie Woodward of the Center for Disability Rights says people with disabilities don't always trust that the rules will be followed.

"So a lot of people, if they don't have to go out, they'll just be stuck inside. And even for those who do get out, if they can't get down the sidewalk, that means missing work or not getting groceries, and that's a serious problem in our community."

Woodward said the city has been good about contacting residents who don't remove the snow from their walks to remind them of their duty. She said just a bit of slush can be the difference for someone in a wheelchair making it to work or getting stuck.

"Where we see a lot of problems are curb cuts. Curb cuts are always packed with snow, so you can roll down a sidewalk, but the moment you get to the end of the sidewalk to cross the street, you're stuck. And because (RTS) won't clear out their bus stops, that means a lot of people are waiting in the streets, and if you're in a wheelchair waiting in the middle of a street for a bus, things can get ugly and dangerous really quickly."

RTS said it doesn’t have the resources to remove snow from bus stops aside from those located at its own property at the downtown transit center and at RTS headquarters at 1372 East Main Street.  RTS spokesman Tom Brede said the transit company sent letters to town and village supervisors several months ago, to ask if their road crews can help to keep bus stops cleared of snow, especially in busy locations.