Why Do People Shovel the Sidewalks?


We all love the serene look of the white snow blanket on our lawns and neighborhood. But, the accumulation of snow on the sidewalks, roads, and yards comes along with responsibility or looming danger. But what’s the purpose of shoveling sidewalks? 

Most people shovel the sidewalks because their state and local laws require them to do so. Others clear the snow willingly to minimize safety hazards, including falling and slipping. Whatever the reason, shoveling snow off sidewalks is essential. 

Shoveling snow off a sidewalk isn’t an easy task, but it’s important. In this article, I’ll discuss why people shovel sidewalks, among other related topics. So, let’s dig in, or rather, dig out! 

Should You Shovel Snow off the Sidewalk?

You should shovel snow off a sidewalk for your safety and the well-being of other sidewalk users. It makes sidewalks accessible, especially to children, the aged, and people with limited mobility. 

Most cities and states have laws about shoveling sidewalks. Some require residents, landlords, and business owners to clear snow off the sidewalks near their residential and commercial buildings. 

But, other cities don’t have such regulations, and it’s up to the governing bodies to make sidewalks more accessible. 

City Laws Regarding Shoveling Snow

In New York City, it is the property owners’ responsibility to shovel snow from sidewalks in residential and commercial areas. They should clear the snow depending on the time the show stops falling. 

For instance, if it stops falling between 5 PM and 9 PM, they must remove the snow within 14 hours. 

The city of Toronto requires home, business, and property owners to shovel snow from their sidewalks or pay hefty fines amounting to $135. They should clear the snow from private properties such as driveways, ramps, landings, parking areas, and steps within 24 hours. 

The city also mandates residents to report property owners who violate this law. 

In Minneapolis, the city authorities prohibit property owners from dumping snow into the streets. So, they should shovel it towards their yards or boulevards. Also, they can clear the snow around their garbage areas or have the city do so, but at a fee. 

In most states, including Colorado and Minnesota, many municipalities have similar laws. 

However, those that don’t have strict regulations face the highest number of unshoveled sidewalks. But they encourage all abled individuals to make the sidewalks safe for themselves and those who can’t do this task. 

So, even if your city or municipal doesn’t require you to shovel your sidewalk, here are reasons why you should do it: 

  • It minimizes falls and slips. 
  • It makes sidewalks safe and accessible for all users. 
  • It is a form of exercise. 
  • It is safer than using de-icing solutions such as rock salt. 
  • It saves you from hefty fines. 

Note: If you’re unable to shovel your sidewalk due to disability or other verifiable reasons, you can hire someone to shovel your sidewalk. Alternatively, you can alert the authorities about your conditions since most of them involve volunteers to do the task. 

However, there are many places where the city will charge you for shoveling, even if you ask them nicely to do it.

Consequences of Not Shoveling Your Sidewalk

There are several repercussions of not shoveling your sidewalk. For instance, you might fall on the slippery sidewalk or incur a penalty from your authority. Also, an unshoveled sidewalk makes walking difficult. 

Some people argue that municipal and city authorities should shovel all sidewalks in their jurisdictions. Others feel that snow shoveling is a tedious task and are unwilling to do it. However, others are ignorant of the dangers of not shoveling sidewalks. 

But what happens when you don’t shovel your sidewalk? 

  • You make sidewalks unsafe and inaccessible. Unshoveled sidewalks are a safety hazard to those who use them. So, when you don’t shovel your sidewalk, you’ll not only be risking your life but that of other people. Moreover, the authorities might hold you liable if someone gets injured after falling in front of your home. 
  • You incur penalties. Most states, cities, and municipalities have mandated their residents to shovel their sidewalks. Homeowners risk paying fines for not shoveling their sidewalks and private property. 
  • You might gain weight. We all feel less active during winter and blame the chilling weather. However, shoveling is an ideal activity that can help you remain active despite the low temperatures. So, you can also keep in shape by shoveling the sidewalk or driveway adjacent to your house. 
  • You might attract thieves. A clean sidewalk will warn intruders that someone is at home, but the opposite is also true. If you leave your sidewalk unshoveled, it might encourage thieves to invade your house, thinking it is abandoned. 

How To Shovel Your Sidewalk

Although shoveling sidewalks is an energy-consuming task, it is worth the pain. So, it’s advisable to clear the snow from your sidewalk and driveway regularly to avoid unmanageable snow piles. 

You’ll also want to get a few bags of salt to de-ice your sidewalk once you’re done shoveling. The reason for this is that it will melt any snow that you didn’t get up during your shoveling session and make the sidewalk clean. It can also keep any melting snow from forming a sheet of ice overnight.

Those who live in more temperate climates might not know about this trick, so take it from someone in the far north–it really works wonders!

Here are some tips on how to shovel your sidewalk effectively

  • Have a snow shoveling schedule. You don’t have to wait for large snow piles to start shoveling your sidewalk. Clear the snow frequently or a few hours after it stops snowing to make the task less tedious. 
  • Use a comfortable shovel. To avoid hurting your back or using too much energy, get yourself a comfortable shovel. For example, the Snow Joe Shovel has an ergonomic design that minimizes bending. Also, its spring-assist handle makes it easy to lift and use the shovel. 
  • Follow safety precautions. Dress warmly in layers, stretch before the activity, and take breaks to avoid straining. Moreover, wear boots with good soles to improve traction. 
  • Wax your shovel. This will prevent the snow from sticking to it and make shoveling easier. 
  • Maintain the right posture. To avoid back problems or injuries, let your spine have the normal curve during shoveling. Also, keep your back straight when you move from squatting to an upright position. Moreover, when lifting the snow, keep your feet apart and bend at your knees, and not your waist.
  • When you’re finished shoveling, you’ll want to throw down a light layer of salt to keep any melting snow from freezing overnight. If you get the right type, you won’t need to worry about damaging your car or the grass, and it makes your job easier next time. Try getting some calcium carbonate melting salt, as this is the least corrosive.

Parting Shot

Whether it’s a legal obligation or not, it is important to shovel your sidewalk. Apart from reducing injuries, the activity makes sidewalks more accessible. You don’t want to allow snow to accumulate on your sidewalk when you can shovel it away.

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