With yet another winter storm expected today, many Laramie residents are gearing up to shovel snow off their sidewalks. However, the Laramie Advisory Commission on Disabilities warns the vast majority of Laramie residents shovel their sidewalks incorrectly, which can be detrimental to the already limited mobility of some residents.
During the commission’s meeting on Jan. 3, members discussed how snow left behind from shoveling can make it difficult for wheelchair-using residents to access the ramps they need in front of buildings throughout the city or by other access points, like street corners.
City Councilwoman Erin O’Doherty also raised the concerns during Tuesday’s Laramie City Council work session and said even she didn’t know she was shoveling wrong.
“I learned that most of us do not shovel our sidewalks properly when it comes to the ramps — that was eye opening,” O’Doherty said at the meeting.
She said after hearing about the issue at the Advisory Commission on Disabilities meeting, she’s started to notice the concern herself.
“I look around when I’m walking around town and see at the bottom of the ramp, people shovel and then leave snow right at the bottom of the ramp,” O’Doherty said. “It just defeats the whole purpose of the ramp.”
When small piles of snow are left in front of ramps or other access points that comply with the American Disabilities Act, O’Doherty said it can make it difficult and even dangerous for those who need the ramps to use them.
“To me, that’s the most compelling reason to shovel,” O’Doherty said. “It’s difficult enough to get around [in a wheelchair] but if you also have to get over the snow pile or the ice pile someone created, it makes it more of a problem. It could be a lot easier if people just shoveled and tossed it aside.”
The Advisory Commission on Disabilities is still strategizing on different ways to raise awareness to the issue, O’Doherty said, but wants to tie it into Disabilities Awareness Month in March. She added she wants to get City Council involved, with one idea featuring the council members trying to get around town in a wheelchair for the day.
“People sounded like they were up for that,” O’Doherty said.
The Advisory Commission on Disabilities is a nine-member voluntary city commission which reviews disabled access points throughout the city and county as well as raises awareness for issues relating to disabled access or employment in the community.