Remember to remove the snow from your sidewalks and curb ramps.
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Sidewalks and curb ramps are lifelines in the community for people with disabilities. Routes covered with snow and ice limit access to groceries, prescriptions, employment, and local gatherings.
Obstructed sidewalks and curb ramps can also put people in life-threatening situations. Piles of snow and icy surfaces make these access points impassable. People using wheelchairs and other mobility devices must use the street alongside traffic.
Maintain access for everyone. Shovel your sidewalk and curb ramps as soon as possible after a snowfall. Important: Don’t wait for the snow to melt! Melted snow can refreeze and make sidewalks and other access points extremely dangerous. If you live near people with disabilities or senior citizens, volunteer to shovel their walkways.
Keeping sidewalks and curb ramps clear of snow and ice is the right thing to do–and it’s the law.
General Removal Rules
- Snow removal ordinances for residential and commercial buildings
- Potential fines for failing to promptly remove snow
- Tips and helpful resources for shoveling your sidewalk
- Reporting snow and ice on local sidewalks
The Minnesota Department of Health provides examples of municipal snow removal policies: Sidewalk Snow Clearing Guide (PDF).
Businesses and Other Properties
Businesses and other property owners have another lesser-known responsibility: to keep disability parking spaces and access aisles free from obstructions. In the winter, these obstructions include plowed snow. The Minnesota Council on Disability receives dozens of reports of snow piled up in disability parking spaces and access aisles. Those piles can turn into dangerous patches of ice. The access aisle is the “no parking zone” next to a disability parking space. For people who use disability parking, the access aisle is just as important as the space itself. People use this area to deploy wheelchair lifts and other adaptations from their vehicles. Without a clear access aisle, many folks who use disability parking would not be able to exit their vehicles.
It is against the law to place anything in the access aisle. A business or property owner could be fined up to $500 and be guilty of a misdemeanor for allowing snow, or anything else, to block disability parking spaces. This includes the access aisle. Local law enforcement is responsible for warning and fining business and property owners.
If you come across anything – including plowed snow – in any part of a disability parking space, call your local law enforcement. Request that they enforce this vital law. A law that allows folks with disabilities to be independent and to participate in society. Disability parking spaces and the laws that uphold them are among the most basic civil rights for people with disabilities.
The Great Plains ADA Center offers snow removal tips for small businesses.
Need Assistance Removing Snow?
If you are a person with a disability and need assistance with snow or ice removal, visit Disability Hub MN. Note: These resources may come at a cost. If possible, plan for removal before the winter season.
Senior citizens can contact the Senior LinkAge Line for resources.