An Urban Indy PSA: Shovel Your Sidewalks

Now that the snow has finally stopped falling, does your neighborhood sidewalk look like this?


If not, consider this a friendly reminder from all of us here at Urban Indy that it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that we keep our streets passable for all users after a snowstorm. Our friendly, walkable neighborhoods aren’t so friendly when you have to trudge through 7 or 8″ of snow!

Comments 13

  • This is really important. I saw a woman today in a wheelchair who wasn’t able to use a sidewalk because it hadn’t been shoveled, so she had to resort to the street and got stuck in the slush.

    • Indy is not use to big snows an therefore doesn’t have snow shoveling ticketing in place or at least active. Send some of those meter maids out of work since parking privatization to ticket residents.

  • It’s my dream that someday my block will look like that. Thanks for reminding folks. It would be great if the City did more to remind people and maybe even issue some citations to encourage compliance.

  • What, you guys get one or two big snows a year and order has to be restored? Lol

  • Indy does have the requirement for businesses and can ticket them for not clearing the walk. I’m not certain is this applies to residential though.

    We may only have a few snow events every year, but the amount of time it can block a sidewalk may be a total of weeks. It is difficult enough getting around by foot, imagine people in wheel chairs or with other disabilities. Would society settle for a few days of a road being blocked? They already freak out when construction limits available lanes. Just apply these laws equally.

    • The point is that the city isn’t going to spend a bunch of time and money on something that only occurs a few days a year and this year has been particularly more snowy than past years.

  • I tried in vain a few times when I still worked downtown, to have businesses ticketed/ordered to clear their walks. One particularly horrendous offender was the former Jefferson Plaza. They never cleared the snow and one time it was an unwalkable 6 inch thick slab of ice from Maryland to Washington street. I called the City Councilor for the district and she lamented the police were not inclined to do enforcement.

  • Municode to the rescue !

    “Sec. 431-106. – Clearing snow and ice from sidewalks. (a) The occupant of any premises, and the owner of any unoccupied premises, are required to keep the sidewalks in front of or adjacent to such premises cleared, so far as is practicable and reasonable, from snow and ice in order to facilitate pedestrian use of such sidewalks.”

    Sorry for the pun, but IMO this code is on thin ice. The state constitution says “No person’s particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation.” If the city can force someone to shovel their walk, what else can the city force them to do ? Shovel the street ? It’s especially dodgy if the sidewalk is adjacent to, but does not pass through the homeowner’s parcel.

    • Can the city force you to fix a hazard on your property? (Yes)

      Is an icy sidewalk a hazard? (Yes)

      Is the sidewalk considered to be on your property? (Yes)

      • My sidewalk is NOT part of my property – and I think that’s the case for most of Marion County. I don’t pay taxes on it and I cannot modify it in any way (technically).
        That said, this PSA should read, shovel your walk and the walk of anyone nearby who happens to be elderly, sick, injured, etc. It’s an easy thing to do and takes maybe an extra 15 minutes (less than that for my 40′ wide lots in Midtown).

        • Technically, Ben, the sidewalk is an easement that endows a certain level of non-exclusionary, public right-of-way on what otherwise is private property. It works much the same way as utility poles would that go through a person’s yard, but no one would argue that the lawn under those poles “is not part of their property” so they don’t have to mow there.

          The Department of Public Works is typically responsible for sidewalk maintenance. Under these conditions, sidewalk shoveling ordinances that are in effect in some cities have nearly always been found legally defensible.

    • “To be considered particular, services must be (1) historically compensated, and (2) something required of a party as an individual, as opposed to something required generally of all citizens.” Bayh v. Sonnenburg, 573 N.E.2d 398 (Ind.1991).

      If the city were, for example, forcing landscaping contractors to spend their winter months clearing the city’s sidewalks for free, then you would be on to something. But requiring something generally of residents isn’t what this provision is talking about. If your interpretation were correct, then it is unclear how any zoning or public health law would be enforceable.

    • You ticket the residence that doesn’t snow the sidewalk on their property. Many muncipalities require this, it’s pretty simple.

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