Buffalo should enforce its clean sidewalk laws

One of winter cycling’s aphorisms is: you will occasionally fall. At 61, I don’t heal as quickly as I used to, so in winter, although I love bicycling, I walk to work. Walking in cities is generally enjoyable, but walking in Buffalo during the winter is positively soul-destroying.

With no enforcement of clean sidewalk laws, walking becomes unpleasant and often downright dangerous. Calling 311 to report unshoveled walks is a complete waste of time. I have never seen a scintilla of evidence that any of my complaints has ever been acted on. After the recent warm spell, what had been annoying piles of slush (which could have been easily removed) became rock-hard ice. So last week I did something I swore I would never do: I walked in the street much of the way. And I wasn’t alone.

I am guessing our mayor chooses to not enforce the law because he wants to avoid a confrontation with an obviously powerful consortium of deadbeat homeowners, businesses and cultural institutions. This is hardly surprising, however, since he has been reluctant to take firm stands on many important issues. Enforcement would also require an understanding of cities and how essential pedestrians are to urban vitality.

The poor, the elderly, the disabled, school children and the occasional eccentric academic will continue to struggle with disgracefully unwalkable sidewalks and will join the traffic in the street when they have no other choice. And in the words of the late George Carlin, “nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care.”

Bill Durfee