By Jovani Figueroa
Icy sidewalks, huge snow banks, and constant darkness are all regular occurrences in a Western New York winter. People already have a difficult time dealing with the constant harsh winter weather. But these minor inconveniences for some have caused major problems for the residents who have disabilities.
Brockport resident Samira Charles struggles to walk because of complications from foot surgery.
“All the snow that gets plowed off the street gets pushed on the sidewalk but no one clears it off the sidewalks making it even harder for people like me to walk to my job or class,” Charles said.
Picture of a sidewalk on King Street Photo Credit Jovani Figueroa
The Americans With Disabilities Act has specific requirements for small towns and snow removal. For example, small towns are only required to maintain things that are necessary to provide access to services and programs. Since the public sidewalk doesn’t fit into those categories the town of Brockport isn’t obligated to clear them.
According to the ADA, towns must maintain in operable working condition those features that are necessary to provide access to services, programs, and activities — including elevators and lifts, curb ramps at intersections, accessible parking spaces, ramps to building or facility entrances, door hardware, and accessible toilet facilities.
Village of Brockport website, property owners are responsible for the upkeep of sidewalks in front of their homes. The village is also required to plow sidewalks as a courtesy when there is significant snowfall and when we are able. Sidewalk upkeep is the responsibility of property owners.
Since the responsibility of the sidewalk falls to property owners a lot of the sidewalks have snow piled up and ice from the constant harsh weather. Oftentimes people don’t think about the need to shovel the sidewalk because most people who live in Brockport own a car or have access to another method of transportation. Samira provides insight on how she travels around Brockport when the sidewalks are too icy to walk on.
“I depend on my friends to drive me to work or take me grocery shopping sometimes and I hate that because I hate depending on others,”.
But for those residents who rely on walking and have a disability, the sidewalks could be potentially hazardous. Thousands of people every year die due to falling on ice or snow, many are elderly or people with disabilities. For those who do fall it’s even more likely that they suffer a serious injury such as a broken bone. This really shows how sidewalks are putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk.
Samira Charles said, “If the town can afford to clear the roads all day and night then can they at least think about getting someone to clear these sidewalks,”.
Cross walk on South Main Street Photo Credit: Jovani Figueroa
Western New York winter might be a winter wonderland for some of the residents that live here. But this wonderland can be troublesome for our most vulnerable loved ones. Icy sidewalks can be a dangerous hazard for the residents that call Brockport home.