Recently a lot of people have been asking why the Council does not grit residential roads and pavements. There are a number of reasons, the foremost being cost. A couple of days ago the council leader, Jason Stacey, explained that we grit 250Kms of main roads. Residential roads and pavements would run into many hundreds of kilometres and be prohibitively expensive even if we could find enough plant and/or day labourers to do the job at very short notice. Obviously there is a limit to how much expensive plant and storage space we want to have idle in case we have a once in ten years snow event.
There also comes a point where putting even more salt on the roads is going to play havoc with trees and gardens – they don’t like salt water. In parts of the world where they have more regular snow events they don’t recommend common salt (sodium chloride) as a snow melting agent. They go for calcium or potassium chloride as less environmentally damaging agents.
If this cold snap goes on much longer we will be glad we did not use all our grit on pavements – hopefully we will have enough left to allow us to keep food getting to shops.
I have visited Massachusetts in the winter and there most counties have local ordinances that demand that home owners keep the footpaths adjacent to their properties clear. Indeed it snows so often that people often have snow blowers for this job. Most of the work is done by homeowners with shovels. As a visitor I set to work to help my host meet her obligations. Unfortunately she had a corner house so it was double the work.
I did a quick scout around on Google and found this page from the Cambridge, MA’s Department of Public Works. It is their summary of owner responsibilities above, click to enlarge. If we decided to follow this model we could, as a community, deal with the problem for ourselves. It would take some culture change I suspect.