Sunday, September 24, 2023

Citizens don’t do enough to clear ice

If you live off campus and have to walk to class, then you’d probably agree it is sometimes easier to walk in the street than to walk on the sidewalk, slide on the ice and risk breaking a bone.

Sure, it’s called the spring semester, but we all know a Plattsburgh winter doesn’t stop until just about the end of the school year, and that means the ice doesn’t stop either. No matter if I’m walking to campus or going downtown, I have to be cautious of all the ice.

The “Duty to Clear Ice and Snow” section of the Code of the City of Plattsburgh says, “It shall be the duty of the owner of a developed or vacant lot that adjoins a public sidewalk to clear snow and ice from such public sidewalk within 24 hours after the end of a snow or ice storm.” Snow and ice.

The codes go on to say that if a homeowner fails to shovel and salt their sidewalk, then the city will do the work and increase that person’s homeowner tax.

The code keeps Plattsburgh residents safe and allows mail carriers to do their jobs efficiently. For the most part, Plattsburgh homeowners are good at clearing their sidewalks of snow, but not everyone salts for ice. In some cases, neither the homeowner nor the city clears the ice. The problem is there, but nobody cares to fix it.

Driveway salt distributers such as Morton, True Value and SafeStep all offer 50lb bags of salt for less than $20. It’s not like homeowners will have to buy bags of salt that often. A 50lb bag will definitely last more than one winter. Salting a sidewalk is just a little more work than shoveling — it only takes a minute.

Technically, homeowners are not required by law to clear their driveways, but it really doesn’t seem too much to ask. Last time my friend and I drove into our apartment building’s parking lot, we did some “Fast and the Furious” drifting. Our massive pick-up truck accelerating at 5 mph and fishtailed all the way around, which left us a little in shock. We were lucky only two other cars were in the parking lot.

I won’t sugar coat this part of the problem, but on the weekends, when students aren’t walking to and from class, most of them are drinking. The John Hopkins University Center for Health Education & Wellness has a blood alcohol content tip card that says a BAC between .14 and .24 causes difficulty in walking and standing. That’s about five to seven beers for the average college student. The ice is hazardous enough already, adding alcohol to the mix does not make for a pretty end result.

An array of injuries can occur from slipping on ice., a medical website specializing in orthopedics, says the most common ice-related injuries are bone fractures, concussions, joint dislocation, muscle strain and cuts and bruises. To avoid these ailments, you should wear shoes with good traction and try not to put so much pressure on your wrist if you fall.

I’ve yet to fall because of the ice, but my friends and I have had our fair share of slips and slides. We have an icy problem in Plattsburgh, and it will last for the next couple of months, but it can be fixed easily.

Email Griffin Kelly at

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