Snow-covered sidewalks that force pedestrians into one of the busiest streets in Western New York has been a wintertime problem that frustrates walkers and drivers alike in the Northtowns.
Mixing pedestrians and cars along any busy thoroughfare can be a formula for disaster, but along Niagara Falls Boulevard 13 years ago, it was a tragedy. News 4 was called to help prevent history from repeating itself.
Though there has been no significant snowfall for days, the snow piled along the sidewalks on Niagara Falls Boulevard in the Town of Tonawanda was so high, it was impassable for pedestrians. Footprints in the snow showed people who had been trying to use the sidewalk either had to climb over a snow bank or go into the street.
A little more than a half mile North of this spot, a car struck and killed three teenagers, and a fourth was severely injured, as they walked out in the street on the night of January 14, 2001. Investigators found the sidewalk so clogged with snow that the four had little choice but to walk in the street.
That accident led to tougher crackdowns by local officials across Western New York on property owners who allow snow to build up on their sidewalks, endangering pedestrians.
The snow pile we found on the sidewalk was near the front of the Tim Horton’s. But to be fair, the snow may be from the parking lot next door, a former dental office, and may have been dumped there by a snowplow contractor.
News 4 asked the manage of Tim Horton’s about the sidewalk, and within a few minutes, she dispatched a staff member with a snow shovel to clear the path.
As a general guideline, officials give property owners 24 hours after a snowfall to clear their sidewalks. Snowplow contractors are prohibited from pushing the snow out into the street or from blocking the sidewalk.
Homeowners are usually given a first warning before they are issued a summons for not clearing sidewalks.