Making Winters Walkable

Minneapolis sidewalks are covered with snow and ice for a large part of the year. 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 is a system that just does not work. If even a single property owner fails to clear their sidewalk, an entire block can become impassable.

This is an equity issue. People who have restricted mobility and disabled people cannot access destinations as a result, leading to a reduced quality of life in winter. The ability to comfortably walk and roll in our communities should not be seasonal, it is a basic right.

The City of Minneapolis, in response to pressure from the community, carried out a winter sidewalk maintenance study. This study evaluated several options for clearing sidewalks, ranging from increasing public awareness to creating a city-led program to shovel sidewalks. The City also increased enforcement of sidewalks that were not being shoveled. However, these measures have not resulted in sidewalks being shoveled and cleared regularly in the winter.

This is why we are asking for a city-led municipal sidewalk clearing program. Minneapolis, in its recently adopted Transportation Action Plan, established a Pedestrian Priority Network. These are streets where improvements to walking and rolling infrastructure will be targeted. We don’t believe that this network can truly prioritize pedestrians unless it is walkable in winter as well.

We ask that the City of Minneapolis Public Works request $6 million in the Mayor’s proposed 2023 budget for the creation of a city-led snow and ice clearance program focused on the Pedestrian Priority Network. We also ask that the program also be extended to fully clear snow and ice from all bus and LRT transit stops citywide.

This budget request is based on the City of Minneapolis’ study that evaluated the cost to acquire the necessary equipment and personnel to create a program that addresses most snowfall events.

Beyond 2023, our focus is on increasing this funding to at least $20 million to expand the city snow and ice clearance program to include the entire city sidewalk network.

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 cities 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 3 of every 5 trips be by walking, rolling, bicycling or transit by 2030

We'll be organizing throughout the year to get this line item on the 2023 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 #MPLSsidewalks.

Read our announcement here.

Proposed Budget Line Item

We ask that the City of Minneapolis create a program to remove snow and ice from sidewalks on the Pedestrian Priority Network after major snow events occur. The pedestrian priority network is 298 miles long. We also ask that the program also be extended to fully clear snow and ice from all bus and LRT transit stops citywide.

We ask that the City of Minneapolis Public Works request $6 million in the Mayor’s proposed 2023 budget for the creation of this pilot program. This budget request is based on the City of Minneapolis ‘s study showing an initial startup and capital outlay cost of $4.5-6 million to acquire the necessary equipment and personnel to begin this program.
The program should evaluate the feasibility and cost of snow and ice clearance from sidewalks on the Pedestrian Priority Network including at the least:

  • The number and availability of plows and operators to clear sidewalks to an acceptable Level of Service.
  • The intensity and frequency of snow emergency events that will trigger city-led operations.
  • The total costs of such a program, including equipment procurement, labor, maintenance and operations.

You can find out more about our winter sidewalk advocacy by checking out the winter tag on our blog.


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