Doing Better, All Winter Long, Everywhere
We applaud the City of Traverse City for continuing to improve on a decade of improvement. Ten years ago, the City didn’t give wintertime sidewalk and trail clearing priority. Over the years, they gradually invested in additional equipment and labor to clear more sidewalks and maintain access to numerous multi-use trails. As they continue to look for ways to improve, we welcome recent discussions to strengthen the snow clearing efforts and policy.
Norte is committed to helping. We are in our third year of The Great Northern Michigan Shovel Experiment. The program connects neighbors to neighbors in the spirit of community interdependence. It’s aimed at residential neighborhoods helping individuals who want to keep their walkways open but need help. The Great Northern Michigan Shovel Experiment works because people stand up, say they want to help, and pledge to do so. In addition to helping neighbors, Neighbors clear crosswalks and bus stops.
This year we’re adding another layer and looking to connect people who support winter accessibility with Traverse City’s Downtown Development Authority. The DDA, TART, and Norte collectively seek volunteers to become Snow Angel Ambassadors. This will be an elite force to attack trouble spots downtown to improve accessibility and reduce ice and snow build up.
The DDA invests thousands in removing snow from downtown. Local businesses invest in clearing the sidewalk in front of their storefronts. The Snow Angel effort asks for help to clear pesky, hard-to-reach sidewalks and crosswalks where snow berms make crossing a nightmare. There hasn’t been much snow this year, but Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow yesterday, and snow is in the forecast. To join, text WINGSTC to (231) 622-6171.
Still, it’s not enough. City Commissioners deserve our support as they consider clarifying the snow clearing policy. After a substantial snowfall, adding a specific timeframe provides clarity and expectation when a property owner must clear the sidewalk. If they model it after a city like Madison, Wisconsin, property owners could sign up for notifications when snow needs removing. Adding clear expectations is a good step forward, and a notification program would be a helpful addition.
There are over 80 miles of sidewalk in the City. Keeping clear passage during heavy winters is impossible without all of us chipping in where we can. There are champions among us, for sure. Those individuals who wake up at 5 am to snow blow entire blocks, chip ice off bridges, and shovel entire routes around schools. We can thank them by doing our part a little more.
For a destination like downtown, where every trip ends in a walk regardless of whether you drove, rode the bus, or walked, clear sidewalks and crosswalks are necessary. In our neighborhoods, clear sidewalks mean people can safely and comfortably access friends and local businesses. Clear sidewalks mean freedom to move and inclusion for everyone—throughout the year.
A walkable city is a happy city. Here’s how you can help.