Days after the storm, some London sidewalks remain slick and snow-covered
'I tripped like five times. It was brutal. It was so embarrassing,' says one Londoner
Days after a Monday snowstorm dropped 15 cm on the city, many sidewalks remain snow-covered and difficult to navigate as complaints and injuries from the slick conditions mount.
Along Richmond Street Wednesday, dozens of students could be seen stumbling through the wintery obstacle course on the sidewalk north of the university gates as they gingerly stepped over snowbanks and icy crevasses while trying not to slip, fall or twist an ankle on the uneven surfaces.
"They're pretty terrible," said Western University psychology student Imran Jabar of the sidewalks bordering the school's eastern rim. "Monday was our first day back and I was trying to walk to the school from the parking lot and I tripped fives times. It was brutal. It was so embarrassing."
"I thought it would be fixed on Tuesday, but on Tuesday it was exactly the same. I guess the sidewalks didn't get done at all or something. I don't really know what's going on," he said.
'It's hard to walk'
The icy and snow-choked sidewalks have turned a simple stroll into a winter adventure and not the good kind, said Diane Berret, who lives in the neighbourhood.
"As opposed to me going five minutes for a walk, it takes about 20, 25 minutes," she said. "There's a couple of inches of snow, so they're just plowing over it, so when you walk it gets all slushy."
There are some elderly people who live in this neighbourhood, I guess they're just housebound now.- Pat Fife
"I'm usually grounded and good on my feet, but I've slipped a couple times," she said. "It's hard to walk."
Others, like Pat Fife, who live a snow ball's throw from the Western University gates, are pitching-in, shovelling away icy debris that still galls pedestrians despite the fact the city's had days to clean it up.
"As you can probably see, they haven't been plowed," Fife said of the sidewalks steps away from her Richmond Street home. "I do my best to keep my part clear, but I can't be expected to do the rest of the sidewalks."
"I truly don't understand why they haven't done something," she said. "There are some elderly people who live in this neighbourhood, I guess they're just housebound now."
"I hope they plow soon because this is really slick," she said.
1,500 kilometres of sidewalks in London
The trouble is, plows aren't always effective in the kind of wet, heavy snow that was dropped on the city early Sunday morning, according to the city's manager of plowing operations John Parsons.
"With 1,500 kilometres of sidewalks certainly a light snow we can get through our system within 12 to 13 hours, however, if we put snow blowers on, it can take several days, which is what people are experiencing right now."
Parsons said that with sidewalks such as those along Richmond Street, there's only so much space to store snow that's been cleared from both the street and the sidewalk.
Even if the sidewalk has been cleared, it's often filled back in with snow after a snow plow passes on the street, Parsons said, noting the problem gets worse when the snow becomes compacted under people's feet.
"We can put salt on a main road and with traffic you can create a brine and they'll start to bear off to asphalt and you will see that," he said.
"With sidewalks, we don't salt them because foot traffic isn't heavy enough to get brine action working, so what will happen is the snow will stick to the sidewalk," Parsons said. "That's why even with a plow or a snow blower you can't achieve bare concrete."
Parsons said as temperatures rise, the snow pack compacted underfoot will loosen up and crews will return in the evening to plow again.
In the meantime, the city encourages neighbours to help each other by shovelling the sidewalk in front of their house.
"Once the city sidewalk plow has gone through and you want to shovel our your section of sidewalk, please do. We really appreciate the help," Parsons said.