There's nothing like a snowstorm to highlight whether walking holds as important a place in your community as cars. Unfortunately, in most suburbs the results are painfully disappointing.
I'm pretty confident that sidewalks in Manhattan are clear enough to be passable a day or two after a snowfall. In a city where more than half of workers take public transportation to the office, it would be unthinkable to clear the roadways but leave walkways unusable. Likewise, I'd bet that sidewalks in front of Newbury Street stores in Boston are reasonably walkable.
Here in Framingham, though, it's pretty random. Some sidewalks are cleared off, but many others aren't. The ones assumed to be used by kids walking to school are often eventually cleared off after a storm. Around the Speen Street office buildings, you can usually get from your building parking lot to your office. But if you want to take a lunchtime walk, be prepared to walk in the snow-narrowed streets and risk being sideswiped.
As I ranted in a MetroWest Daily News op-ed piece last year, this is completely unacceptable. Nobody relies on property owners to clear the roads in front of their buildings in order to allow cars to pass. It's not right to do so for walkways. Taxpaying pedestrians should not be treated as so unimportant. Walking around in winter is NOT an optional activity. Local government should be providing the same snow-clearing services for pedestrians on public sidewalks as they do for drivers on roads.