Snow removal shouldn’t leave treacherous terrain behind for wheelchair users

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 05: A shoveled sidewalk is seen the day after the region was hit with a "bomb cyclone" on January 5, 2018 in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Schools and businesses throughout the Boston area get back to work today after the city received over a foot of snow during the fast moving storm yesterday. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Scott Eisen/Getty Images
A sidewalk in Dorchester on January 5.

I am a member of the board of WalkBoston and a wheelchair user. WalkBoston is devoted to helping everyone get around the city streets and sidewalks no matter what their mode of transportation.

During these snowy, icy days, we want to remind everybody to keep curb cuts completely cleared at all times so that wheelchair users are able to cross the streets like everybody else. I have often rolled to the end of a shoveled sidewalk, only to find the curb cut blocked with snow. A video WalkBoston posted this week on Twitter graphically illustrates the challenges wheelchair users face.

Not only do snow removers ignore the curb cuts, but sometimes they make matters much worse. I notice that those who shovel the sidewalks and plow streets, including public works departments, have a tendency to park the piles of snow they remove in the curb cut itself.


When my path is blocked and I stop, looking desperate, kind strangers will sometimes attempt to hoist my power wheelchair over the piles or stop traffic to help me cross at a driveway. We certainly cannot rely on the kindness, availability, and possible muscle power of strangers.

We must handle the snow so that everybody can get around.

Carol Steinberg

Jamaica Plain

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