These are my three takeaways from this week’s challenges with the snow:
1.) The Streets Dept. policy of not plowing side streets probably works 90% of the time, but it wasn’t sufficient this time. In the future, when the forecast is 6+ inches of snow and extended below freezing temps, they should start on side streets with pick-up truck plows within 48 hours of the snowfall. Residents anticipate some inconveniences when it snows, but they also expect things to be cleared within three or four days. This is reasonable. Cancelling schools for five straight days is the most obvious indication that certain situations require more plowing.
2.) The City is not the only agency that didn’t do enough. I saw schools, institutions, and businesses that didn’t clear sidewalks. I saw bus stops blocked by four feet mounds of snow and people walking in traffic lanes. A significantly more coordinated effort between the City, Metro, and the school district needs to happen so people can get to school or ride the bus safely. This isn’t trivial – well over 50,000 St. Louis area residents ride the bus on a typical weekday. Drivers count, but so do transit users.
3.) We can all do a little more. There was a time in St. Louis history when men not only shoveled their sidewalk, but the street in front of their house. If you’re an able bodied guy, a hour with a shovel makes a big difference. I cleared several intersections in about 30 minutes each. I saw some people going above and beyond the call of duty, but others didn’t shovel their own sidewalks. In the future, those of us who physically can help, should help a little more. Abnormal weather requires a little extra effort from all of us to get things back to normal in a timely manner.