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Mayor Encourages Sidewalk Use, but Easier Said Than Done

With most sidewalks nearly impassable, many pedestrians could only walk down the streets to get around. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

D.C. residents out and about following the weekend's blizzard are using the street to walk and not the sidewalk, posing a “big concern” for Mayor Muriel Bower.  

“We really need folks to stay on the sidewalks,” the mayor’s Communications Director Mike Czin told HOH. “Roads are slick and icy,” he said, adding:  “When people are on the street, people making turns have to go wide,” he says. “It’s also hard to see people past the banks of show.”  

But using the sidewalks is easier said than done, because so many of them have still not been shoveled and de-iced, even with temperatures beginning to rise. The issue is acute in residential neighborhoods, prompting more than 1,000 volunteers to be dispatched to the homes of elderly and disabled residents to shovel the sidewalks for them. “If you’re in a residential neighborhood, try and help your neighbor out,” Czin said.  

Snow crews are still out and some of the bigger equipment is limited, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. “If you are digging out your car, we ask that you do so cautiously and be mindful of vehicles in the roadway as you proceed,” Lt. Sean Conboy, MPD's public information officer, told HOH.  

The department is encouraging residents to use the Metro, now that the service is restarting, as opposed to walking in the street.  

No fatalities have come out of walking in the street, but one fatality from the storm was a 82-year-old man who died shoveling snow, according to Czin.  

Czin said the mayor's office is coordinating with Metro, Pepco and the federal government to try to clear snow from obstructing bus stops. “It’s really dangerous to stand in the street because conditions are still challenging in some places,” he says.

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