Sadly We Still Have Some Sidewalks of Shame


A reader writes:

“The SE corner of 5th and P St NW. They haven’t shoveled it at ALL during any of the storms. This is across the street from an elementary school. I saw two kids fall yesterday. Requests to DPW for assistance in snow/ice removal informed me they can leave a note in a mailbox but will not take action or fine.”

48 Comment

  • This is a prime candidate for vindictive shovelling. Jesus!

  • HaileUnlikely

    The sidewalk in front of that storage place on Upshur, between Annie’s Ace Hardware and Kansas Ave, had thick solid sheet of ice all the way from the building to the road last night. The cross-slope of the sidewalk made it even worse – it slopes significantly toward the road.

    • Yeah, I walked to Annie’s the other day, that place was terrible. Made even worse by the fact that they did shovel/plow the driveway in and out of the place.

    • This place is always the worst! Walking with my kids to/from school is usually ok until this spot.

  • Tsar of Truxton

    That side of P from 1st to 5th is horrible. Plenty of places that have not shoveled (including that development in the collapsed building that happened last year).

    • Church on 3&p usually shovels, but the pastor does it by herself. She is over 60 easy. They’ve had events since the prior snow yet most of their sidewalk is icy. Why isn’t someone from the congregation helping her?
      The grouphouse finally did something. Maybe someone fell during their kegger.
      Anyone know who covers the sidewalk next to the dog park and soccer field across from the school?

      • I’ve called about that one as well! Turns out it is the responsibility of KIPP. DC used to take care of it but KIPP said that since the fields belong to them, they will take care of the sidewalks. Unfortunately they only clear the sidewalks on the school side. Calls to KIPP’s principal about the issue were not returned.

        • Actually, the sidewalk in the picture is in adjacent to private property, not KIPP, and like OP said, they NEVER shovel that stretch.

  • Best part is they shoveled from the front of the house to the sidewalk but nothing else!

  • Has anyone mentioned yet how atrocious Grant Circle is? I witness a small child walking to school last week, completely fall backwards flat on her back after crossing into the circle. What a mess.

  • There are a bunch of places on N Street as well. It’s porbably safer to bike in the street than walk on the sidewalks.

  • Can we talk about the south side of the 700 block of Quincy St NW?

    How many people walk that block on the way to metro/buses in the morning and evening? That block is the absolute worst every year, and I can’t figure out why. I live close enough to know that the demographics are not significantly different from my block–a few small condo buildings, some renters, some young homeowners, some older homeowners and 1-2 places owned by developers.

    Look my block has elderly people. And people with disabilities. And we get it clear, end to end every time. We help each other out. Why does absolutely no one on that block give a darn about whether people fall in front of their homes? Last night it was a solid sheet of ice for at least half the block and I was clinging to fences and shrubs trying to make it through without falling YET AGAIN.

  • There was a bill passed by the DC Council that would allow fines however it appears it won’t take effect until October 2015, if at all. “No fines will be levied this winter; the bill will not be effective until Oct. 1 — and after the mayor’s office writes the rules on how the fines will be levied and adjudicated, a process that could be complicated by Bowser’s opposition.”

    • I’m trying really hard to figure out what her angle is here. DC pols typically love ANY opportunity to make money. It just doesn’t make any sense to me for her to oppose. Perhaps its to prevent her ardent supporters in Wards in the SE and NE – i.e. those who often drive – from getting tickets? Are the Gentrifiers seen as pushing this bill?

    • It’s my understanding that if the District gives a ticket for not shoveling, it is then responsible for doing the shoveling. Clearly they don’t have the capacity for that, and until they do, if ever, won’t give the tickets. It’s hard to imagine a $25 fine covering the actual expenses of following through.

    • Even if they give someone a ticket, a homeowner can just rip it up. The city owns the sidewalk and is ultimately responsible. They can only request, but not force, the adjacent property owner to shovel.

      • It doesn’t matter who owns the sidewalk, if the law says you’re responsible for a certain behavior, then you can be fined for failing to perform the behavior in question. Think about it like this: you can get ticketed for littering on city-owned sidewalks too. Just because the city owns a piece of property doesn’t entitle you to destroy or deface it at will. SMH.

  • Can’t a property owner be sued for damages when someone falls and breaks a wrist? Is it onerous in terms of process? Aren’t there ambulance chasers here, who will take 10% of whatever you recover (or 30% or 50%)?
    With all these glassy sidewalks, there HAVE to be some injuries. Why is no one afraid of getting sued? Logic says because no one is suing. So why is no one suing??

    • Because no one is getting injured…presumably.
      People mentioned numerous incidents of people falling but no one appeared injured.
      We’re wearing heavier clothing, and people are already being cautious because they see the ice, so the chances of injury are pretty low, IMO.
      I think one good case of someone being sued and some people/groups may get on the ball.

    • I’ve wondered the same thing. I was in a particularly shame-worthy business last week and mentioned to an employee that their walkway was really treacherous. The response: “I know — two people fell there yesterday!” Then walking in the other direction as my jaw dropped. SMH.

      • Ugh. That’s even worse than Pasta Mia’s response (“Well, we salted”) several years ago when I told them I’d slipped on their sidewalk. I hope someone sues their @ss someday.

      • Cusbah on H St NE is the worst as well. As is Autozone.

    • Yeah, I’ve fallen twice in front of someone’s home this winter–but other than very large painful bruises I haven’t been injured.

      I do try to make a point if I later see the homeowner/resident (my falls have been close to my house) to mention that I fell in front of their house and that they are lucky I wasn’t seriously injured. I think a lot of these people drive to work/elsewhere and park their cars in the rear of their homes. So they don’t even really notice that the front of their house is an ice rink, because they rarely go out that way.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Interesting question. Other potentially-interesting question: in the event that a person does injure him/herself severely enough to require medical treatment, and the medical treatment is covered by health insurance, would the health insurance company go after the property owner. I once was treated in an emergency room due to a bicycling accident attributable solely to my sucking at bicycling. My health insurance company called me a couple weeks later to ask me a bunch of questions about where it happened, whether it was on private property, if anybody else was involved, etc., clearly trying to identify another party from whom to try to recover their losses. In a situation such as this, I bet an insurance company that is otherwise on the hook for medical bills would go after the property owner.

      • My experience is from a car accident with me as a ped. Yes, my insurance went after the car insurance and the insured for money. Fun fact: my car insurance kicked in for underinsured even though I was walking. I imagine they tried to get some money too.

  • 50% of paved pathways in Rock Creek are still covered in ice. Trail is solid ice from south of zoo to Piney Branch.

    • Tried running it from the South of the Zoo this morning and I don’t think the portion between P and Mass is going to melt until it’s like 80F. The CCT gets plowed, I wish the same could be done for the Rock Creek Park path.

      • Seriously?! We have sidewalks in front of elementary schools that have not been shoveled and you guys are b**ching about National Park trails not being plowed?

        Do you also want the Grand Canyon swept every night so you don’t get dirt on your shoes?

        It is nature. Find another place to run.

  • Garfield St between Mass Ave and Cleveland, just about every single house plus the church at the corner of Garfield and Mass did not shovel (on the Garfield side of the property)

  • I knew this sidewalk the second i saw the picture, it’s right near the dog park so there’s lots of foot traffic. Most people are now walking in the street or crossing to the other side mid-block. There’s also some really bad spots on U Street, south side, between 17th and 18th… particularly at the bus stop on the SW corner of 17th/U.

  • I’ve been out of town since last week. I come home to my small condo and some of it was shoveled, but it was a tiny walkway (my guess is it had actually melted), and they didn’t do the stairs into the building at all – it was a 1.5 inch sheet of ice. I use a cane to walk and I nearly fell on my ass, exacerbating the injury. I was really, really hoping my neighbors would step up to the plate, but they are such entitled jerks. I love how they make the oldest, least capable resident do all the shoveling, then each time swear they’ll do it next time. But they outvote me when I suggest we get a service to do it. I need to move.

    • This is the problem with small buildings. I used to be the person tasked with it, and I’m the youngest there, but it’s a huge lot, and I didn’t get off on snow days…in fact was quite busy. I eventually said enough and stopped. They managed to get it done without me.

      I would hire someone and sue them for the bill. You obviously are having trouble keeping up with it (and you shouldn’t have to do it esp. given your injury), and the fact that they’re cheap shouldn’t affect your health. This is a health and safety issue. It’s cheaper to hire a company than get sued by you because you injured yourself while you force shoveled or someone falls walking by.

  • Blithe

    Question: As a pedestrian, inching around patches of ice, I wonder how it is that clearing the streets is considered a public service, while it’s left to individuals to clear the sidewalks – with the physical and financial burdens that this entails. Is this a universal practice? Are there other cities and towns that clear sidewalks as well as streets as part of city services?

    • I think it boils down to something like this: city services generally focus on services that are a) socially beneficial and b) beyond the resources or authority of private citizens. While clearing the sidewalks might qualify as the former (although arguably not as much as you might think), it doesn’t qualify as the latter. Clearing the roads qualifies as both.

      • Blithe

        Thanks for your response — especially so late in the day! What prompted my question was seeing a mini-snowplow clearing sidewalks in a nearby neighborhood – and realizing how much more efficient that is, compared to expecting thousands of individuals, including the elderly, to each provide shovels, sno-melt, and labor, and wondering how different cities, towns, tax districts handle the issue of individual vs government responsibilities. I’m sure I’ll be pondering “b” at least until the next batch of snow melts.

  • The sidewalk was being cleared on my way to Bundy Dog Park this evening. Perhaps the PoPville shaming is to thank!

    • I actually tracked down the owner’s email address and shared with him how bad the ice was with photos and stories of everyone walking in the street. It sucks that it took that in order to get action but at least it isnt’t dangerous anymore (well, until the next storm)

  • Not that this is an excuse when it comes to heavy snow (because that can be shoveled), but salt is nowhere to be found in this city. Everywhere has run out, it seems. If anyone knows of a business selling bags of salt for sidewalks, please chime in. And no I’m not talking about table salt, but I may have to resort to that for this next storm!

    • I ran into this last winter — I kept going back to Home Depot again and again, but in vain.
      This winter I bought de-icing salt at Home Depot before it ever snowed.
      I think Anon Spock said she had a list of places that had de-icing salt and places that didn’t.

  • I saw a couple of guys shoveling this very spot last night.

  • Good article on some of the challenges enforcing NYC’s sidewalk clearing laws
    nytimes . com/2015/03/04/nyregion/with-no-one-to-clear-it-ice-creates-a-dangerous-passage . html

    • I was reading that last night. It sounds as though in NYC, the problems are with vacant buildings and uncleared sidewalks, whereas in D.C., the problem is with all of the occupied buildings whose residents/owners can’t be bothered to clear the sidewalks!

  • The Dance Institute on 16th and Newton in CH hasn’t been shoveled or salted before any snow events this year. Since they’re on a corner, it’s doubly bad. It’s a high traffic pedestrian area, and really tough to navigate through with the sidewalks in this condition!

  • Exxon gas station on 14th and Otis. Constant offender this winter. Don’t get me started on this place in general but they are a horrible neighbor.

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