We are asking the City of Minneapolis to include a municipal sidewalk plowing program in the 2024 operational budget. We believe accessible sidewalks are worth the investment.
Minneapolis sidewalks are covered with snow and ice for a large part of the year. If even a single property owner fails to clear their sidewalk, an entire block can become impassable. While our streets are cleared by the City or by the state department of transportation, individual property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks.
Unfortunately, this system is not working. In the last six winters alone, there have been over 30,000 submitted complaints of uncleared sidewalks. More fines won’t fix this problem.
Unclear sidewalks are inaccessible.
Snow and ice restrict mobility for people with walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, and strollers. If just one property neglects to clear its sidewalk, an entire block can become inaccessible.
Unclear sidewalks are unsafe.
Every winter, snow and ice-covered sidewalks cause countless fall-related and traffic-related injuries, sometimes fatalities. Pedestrians often resort to walking in the street to get where they need to go when ice and snow compact on unclear sidewalks over the course of the winter.
Unclear sidewalks are inequitable.
Unclear sidewalks disproportionately impact people of color, people with low income, and disabled people; all of whom are more likely to rely on walking, rolling, and transit for transportation. Many people do not have the option of working from home, paying for rideshare, or owning their own car.
The ability to comfortably walk and roll in our communities should not be seasonal. Snow or shine, everyone deserves accessible sidewalks.
A city-led municipal sidewalk plowing program sets a standard of dependability. Residents would know that sidewalks are clear and that they can walk or roll to their destination safely. It would also remove the disproportionate impact on our vulnerable populations.
It is urgently important to reduce carbon emissions to reduce climate impact. With clear sidewalks year-round, it will be easier to walk, roll, and take transit. Ice-covered transit stops and sidewalks shouldn’t be an obstacle to environmentally friendly transportation.
Clear sidewalks are better for our businesses. A municipal sidewalk plowing program would ensure year-round accessibility to busy street corners, pedestrian ramps, bikeways, and transit stops, which would open city destinations to more patrons.
A municipal sidewalk plowing program can and should benefit local residents rather than outside contract work.
This issue impacts all Minneapolis residents. The City of Minneapolis can fully fund a Municipal Sidewalk Plowing Program in the 2024 budget based on its winter sidewalk maintenance study.
After initial equipment investment, the estimated cost of municipal sidewalk plowing is less than $20 million per year. Divided amongst Minneapolis residents, the annual cost would be $47 per resident.
This program will have the following benefits:
- Open up city destinations to people walking and rolling throughout the winter, especially for people who have mobility restrictions
- Ensure that street corners and transit stops on our city's most frequented streets are properly cleared
- Remove the disproportionate impact of sidewalk shoveling enforcement on people of color, people of low income, and disabled people
- Advance the City’s goal to have three of every five trips be by walking, rolling, bicycling or transit by 2030
We'll be organizing throughout 2023 to get this line item on the 2024 budget and ultimately to achieve a city-wide snow and ice clearance program. Join us in asking for this program by sending an email to the City of Minneapolis and posting your photos on social media using the tag #PlowMPLSSidewalks.
You can find out more about our winter sidewalk advocacy by checking out the winter tag on our blog.