Kids walk to school - not everyone has bus service or an available parent to chauffeur them. People walk to nearby stores, or homes of family & friends. People walk between nearby office buildings during the workday (I do almost every day, and so do many of my colleagues, since my company rents space in multiple buildings that are not all on a private campus). People walk to bus stops and train stations and, yes, even neighborhood auto repair shops when their cars break down. People walk their dogs.
So why do our governments operate as if people do not need (or want) to walk during the winter months? Why is it understood that communities must keep roads clear of snow so that drivers can get where they need to go, but nobody seems to care about doing the same for sidewalks? Are pedestrians really just out in fair weather? Does nobody need to be out walking from December to March?
William Hanson, chair of the Framingham Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, picked up on this agenda item from yesterday's Selectmen's meeting: "Town Manager’s Report: Reduction in Sidewalk Snow Plowing Routes."
Sidewalk clearing is already grossly inadequate in Framingham, given that at work we are advised to take our cars less than a quarter of a mile between buildings in winter, because there is no safe walking corridor between two buildings that should be less than a five-minute walk. Now even fewer sidewalks will be cleared?
Hanson said he spoke to Framingham Town Manager Julian Suso, and told him, "Hopefully the revisions you have proposed will only have minimal impact." Hanson also noted:
"Some local governments have established permanent "Snow Committees" so that all stakeholders in the community can work collectively in open sessions to formulate policy. Perhaps this is an opportune time for Framingham to form such a committee. . . .
I will pass on the information about the Town's new snow complaint line, (508) 872-1212 extension 3999. I will also ask FBPAC members to venture out after snowstorms this winter to evaluate and report on sidewalk conditions. "