For all of my nearly eleven years in Rome, I have noticed that our community does not seem to show an interest either in keeping sidewalks in good repair or in keeping them cleared of snow. This shows at best a lack of awareness of people who must walk to get where they are going; at worst it shows contempt for pedestrians.
The city of Rome seems to lack the will and the resources to care about pedestrian safety. In the winter, Rome does not enforce the clearing of snow from sidewalks. In the summer, broken, heaved and otherwise unsafe sidewalks force people with baby strollers, shopping carts or wheelchairs into the streets. In many places curbs are not cut.
There are crucial places where there simply are no sidewalks, such as on the way to the Salvation Army Store on Erie Blvd. In those places, people are left to walk in the road or on uneven road shoulders or yards and parking lots.
Mayor Izzo was quoted recently as saying, “...you’re never going to tell people where to walk.” Oh, but Mayor, you do tell them where to walk. You tell them to walk in the street by not having sidewalks, by not clearing sidewalks and by not having safe sidewalks.
On March 28 there was a report on NPR’s Morning Edition about the 30-year high in pedestrian deaths around the country. One factor cited in that report is the increased use of cell phones by drivers. Distracted drivers are less aware of the presence of pedestrians. And, rising poverty rates mean more people who don’t have cars and who have to walk.
All of which are reasons for our city to pay more attention to having safe sidewalks and enforcing the requirement that property owners keep their walks passable in winter.
It is possible for cities to enforce this kind of ordinance. My niece and her roommates (who live in a college town in Iowa) had the fine for not shoveling sidewalks that was levied against their landlord added to their rent. They will shovel next time.
Even if the city doesn’t seem to care, property owners can care about their neighbors. We can clear our walks. We can repair broken and heaved walks. We can make it possible for people who have to walk to do so safely.
— Sam Pendergast, Rome