Boston prides itself on being a walkable city, but if that’s to be true in the winter, City Hall needs to pay more attention to getting the pedestrian details right. With more bad weather looming, that should be one big takeaway from this winter’s first two big storms. At times when the MBTA is turning in another of its late and lamentable storm performances and driving in the city is nightmarish, foot travel is an alternative the city should work hard to enable.
But there City Hall has fallen down on the job. For those on foot, the last week has proved almost as frustrating as it has been for motorists and public-transit-takers. One problem has been the uncleared median islands. Those areas, which divide traffic lanes and frequently sit between sections of crosswalk, have been neglected across wide swaths of the city. That has left walkers to make their way, single file, through a narrow, sometimes icy, sometimes slushy rut tramped down by other pedestrians.
Similarly, the sidewalks along some public schools haven’t been cleared in a timely fashion. They should be shoveled even if the kids have a snow day.
And in too many other spots, though the walks themselves are passable thanks to the efforts of local residents or businesses, openings haven’t been cut through the snow piles that plows have left in that no man’s land where the walk ends and the crosswalk begins. Technically that’s a responsibility of the local shovelers, but more reminders from the city are clearly needed. And in big storms, with Mount Monadnock-size plow piles, the city should lend a hand — or a snowblower — particularly along important pedestrian routes.
Citizens can help out in more ways than simply by shoveling, of course. If you spot an area that needs clearing, call the mayor’s office at 617-635-4500 or tweet at @NotifyBoston to alert City Hall.