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When winter hits, pedestrians could end up in trouble

Lowell residents know how to brave a winter storm. Snow rarely slows us down too much, but as many of us know, it can lead to difficult conditions on the road. Car accidents are not uncommon when winter strikes, but what we may neglect to think about is the impact it has on pedestrians.

A recent article in the Lowell Sun raised the issue of being a pedestrian after a snowstorm. When sidewalks don’t get plowed, many people opt for walking on the streets that have already been cleared. This, however, puts pedestrians in danger of being hit by a car.

While many of think that snow-filled sidewalks are just something we have to deal with during winter, that is actually not true. Property owners are mandated by a city ordinance to clear no less than half of the sidewalk that surrounds their property. This must be done within 12 hours of a storm or they will be fined. Unfortunately, many property owners do not adhere to this, putting pedestrians at risk.

While sometimes there is no good way to avoid an accident during difficult winter conditions, pedestrians should not be put at risk of injury or even death by car accident because property owners fail to keep their sidewalks cleared. In a situation like this, responsibility lies with more than one entity. Property owners must follow the law and clear their sidewalks, and the city must enforce their laws, holding negligent property owners accountable. Doing so will make for a much safer city.

Source: Lowell Sun, “Pedestrian? You’re in peril,” Evan Lips, Feb. 13, 2013

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