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Frank Gray

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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
A woman risks life and limb along Broadway as scores of city sidewalks remain unshoveled Wednesday morning.

Snow-filled sidewalks shame of city

It’s uncertain how many, if any, tickets city police issued to people for violating the travel ban during the state of emergency, which ran from 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 p.m. Monday, but it seemed to work.

Roads remained empty enough for snowplows to hit not just the main drags but to plow residential streets by Monday afternoon, clogging most people’s driveways just enough to make sure they couldn’t cheat and venture out before the state of emergency expired.

The emergency has long since passed, but we’ve got a whole new emergency that needs addressed.

In Fort Wayne, you’re supposed to shovel the sidewalks in front of your house.

People with big-muscled snow blowers usually comply with the law.

I comply, too – sometimes.

If you look around the city, though, people seem to have completely forgotten about the sidewalks. All over the city, especially along the main roads, sidewalks are still covered in deep snow, many coated on top with more hard, heavy snow kicked up by the street plows.

People don’t like walking in snow like that. In fact, even animals don’t like it. I learned that when cross-country skiing 30 years ago. I’d break a path in deep snow and return the next day to find that path full of deer tracks. Even wild animals avoided deep snow.

The result of the neglect of the sidewalks is that many busy streets in the city are crowded with pedestrians, some walking slow, some walking fast, and some seemingly oblivious to the fact that the streets are like skating rinks and a car could slide right into them.

I haven’t grumbled about these people on foot, even though I have to slow down and move over when I approach them. How can you grumble about someone who has to travel on foot on ice in subzero temperatures?

My fear is that as slippery as the roads have been, someone could slide into them, and I wonder whether they’re alert and quick enough to jump out of the way.

So now that we’re done with the road emergency, it’s time to announce a second sidewalk emergency, not one that bans walking on the sidewalk (you can’t walk on those) but an effort to get them cleared, especially on arterial roads.

My favorite closing

The only thing as heavy as the snow Sunday and Monday was the number of cancellation notices, and the one that seemed to attract the most attention was an announcement that the Old Fort Snowshoe Trek had been called off.

Of course that sounds comical. Who ever heard of a snowshoe trek being canceled because of snow?

I suspect that announcement might have been a joke. The only Old Fort snowshoe events I could find are in New York.

It caused some excitement, though. There are local snowshoe enthusiasts who were thrilled to hear there might be a snowshoe club here. Unfortunately I could find no clubs locally, probably because the club would be able to meet only once every two years or so.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.