HELENA – During cold months, sidewalks, streets and ramps can freeze over and cause serious injuries if not properly shoveled or plowed.
Helena Resident, Rob Bonnes, uses a wheelchair and he says sidewalks that are not completely cleared of snow can be difficult to navigate.
“(What) I noticed is some will only do one shovel swipe down the side block and there’s only one 12-inch path shoveled, and I’m in am 18-inch wide wheelchair, so I’m just trudging through the snow regardless,” said Bonnes.
Bonnes also said businesses should pay close attention to wheelchair ramps, he’s seen ramps covered by snow from plows.
“Personally I love the snow, when it snows out I get happy, because when I see snow, I think about going skiing, but, if I have to trudge through the snow it’s just going to take that much more of an effort to get to where I’m going,” Bonnes added.
Whether it’s someone who is dependent on walking to get around, someone with a disability, the elderly or children walking to school, sidewalk snow and ice removal is part of Helena city law.
The city of Helena states the public needs to be aware of the change in weather conditions.
On commercial districts, snow needs to cleared within 4 hours, or by 9 a.m. the next business day.
In residential areas, people have 24 hours to remove snow and ice.
“It’s really just safety and a common courtesy for your neighbors to make sure the sidewalks are cleared and dry,” said Joel Peden, Advocacy Coordinator for Montana Independent Living Project.
Peden said he has a physical disability and he also receives complaints from disabled individuals regarding snow removal.
“Stability for me is very important and it’s very difficult if I start to lose my balance to regain that and to stop from falling so I don’t get injured,” said Peden.
If you can’t remove all the snow from your sidewalk and people do complain, the city can send a crew to clear it. That will result in the property owner getting a bill for the work, plus possible civil penalties.
For more information about snow removal laws click here.
For the city’s snow clearance map, click here.