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Snow-free sidewalks are the rule in Cincinnati but not always the norm

Cincinnati has an ordinance requiring property owners to remove snow from the sidewalk, but it's a law that's rarely enforced.  Public Services spokesman Larry Whittaker says the city doesn't have the resources to go after offenders. 

“Usually when we’re in a big winter operation … we have everyone working really hard to get the streets cleared and we just don’t have the resources to strictly enforce a lot of the ordinances that are on the books,” Whittaker says.

Instead, he says they hope people do it voluntarily. 

“It’s really a safety issue.  If you’re out driving, there’s been lots of people walking in the streets, because they really can’t effectively walk on the sidewalks.  And that just creates a really dangerous situation.  So we want to be able to get people to use the sidewalks, which is what they’re for.  Get them out of the streets if we can,” he says.

The ordinance applies to sidewalks at both residential and commercial properties.  Whittaker says clearing the snow is simply a matter of being a good neighbor.  The fine for not removing snow and ice is up to $25.

Instead of just salting the streets, Cincinnati Public Services crews are often busy plowing and scooping snow.  Whittaker says every snow storm is different.

“Whenever there’s several inches of snow we prefer to plow.  That’s always the case.  We’ve had a lot of small events, where there isn’t enough snow to scrape off the ground in past years.”

Whittaker says salt won't do much good with extremely cold temperatures, anyway.

“We would love to see them up around 20-25 degrees, and they’re dropping down into the teens, and going into the negative digits overnight, which makes a lot of our chemicals not nearly as effective.”

Updated: February 4, 2022 at 4:47 PM EST
This story was first published in February 2015 and has been updated.
Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.