I know it seems early to be talking about ice and snow, but that’s exactly what the Lansing City Council will be doing on September 20 as it considers an ordinance to make sidewalks safer. Under the new policy, property owners would be required to remove ice and snow from their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowstorm. If they fail to do so, the City of Lansing would clear the sidewalks at the owner’s expense.

The purpose of the proposed ordinance is to encourage property owners to take responsibility for ensuring a safe and passable path for pedestrians. As any Michigan resident can tell you, it is not uncommon for heavy lake-effect snow to completely blanket sidewalks, making them impossible to traverse. In addition, melting and freezing cycles can cause cement walkways to become encased in ice. An individual who is trying to walk on the sidewalk faces the very real risk of slipping and injuring himself or herself as a result of these treacherous conditions. Many times, pedestrians’ only way around these obstacles is to walk in the street, which is typically cleared and salted by the city on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this puts the pedestrian at risk of being struck by passing vehicles.

Hopefully the city will adopt this or a similar measure, providing another layer of safety for people traveling on foot this winter.