Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.


Reminder: Shovel your damn sidewalks this winter

Reminder: Shovel your damn sidewalks this winter

Sorry for the language used in the headline — but this shit is important.

As it does each year, the Rochester Public Works Department has issued its standard news release reminding us, the media, to remind you to keep sidewalks and paths accessible this winter by removing snow and ice from them.

Like all the annual winter reminders you will see in the news over the next month (I.e. Don't Light Your Christmas Tree on Fire; Watch Out for Large Snow Plows; Carry an Emergency Kit in Your Car), this one needs to be shared. Why? Because so many people still don't take care of their sidewalks — making it difficult on pedestrians, especially the elderly and those with disabilities. It affects mail carriers, transit users and children walking to school. And sure some residents are lazy, but others are just uniformed about the city's rules.

So in the holiday spirit, here is a not-so-favorite tradition of mine.


Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The rules governing sidewalk maintenance in the winter, as told by the Rochester Public Works Department:

What are the rules regarding sidewalk snow removal?

Rochester City Ordinance 72.02 requires property owners with a public sidewalk or path abutting their property to fully remove snow and ice within 24-hours after a snowfall. The full sidewalk width must be free of snow and ice and pathways must have a clear path that is at least 5 feet wide. 

Why do sidewalks and paths need to be cleared?

Winter can be a difficult time for pedestrians using sidewalks and paths to safely access transit, schools, work, and maintain an active lifestyle. Snow and ice covered sidewalks and paths are hazardous to all pedestrians, especially the elderly, disabled, and those with medical conditions that impact their mobility. We can all do our part this winter to contribute to a safe and mobile pedestrian environment in Rochester.

How can property owners avoid citations?

The best way for a property owner to avoid a citation and associated service costs is to remove snow and ice from their sidewalk or path within 24 hours after a snowfall. If the Public Works Department receives a complaint that snow and ice have not been removed from a sidewalk or path, the complaint will be investigated. If a violation exists upon inspection, the property owner will receive a $40 Administrative Fine citation and a bill for the cost to remove snow and ice.

What does a compliant sidewalk look like?

Left: Compliant, Right: Non-compliant

Graphic: Public Works

Click here for more information.

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(Cover photo: File / Canva)

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