Slippery slope planning

Thanks to The Hook for highlighting the problem of Charlottesville sidewalks uncleared of ice and snow [News, "Frozen law: Sidewalk scofflaws skate free," December 19, 2002] ( For those of us who log many a local mile on foot, the city's failure to enforce the rules when fellow citizens fail to do their duty glazes potential injury with insult.

Your story did fall short in one respect, however. That is, no one noted that the city itself is a chronic offender. For example, a few years back when winter brought serial snowfalls and frequent freezes, city street-clearing crews pushed snow from traffic lanes on JPA and Main Street into piles on the pedestrian crosswalk where they meet. A crossing already dangerous because of its length and busyness became a further challenge to walkers because for more than a month they had to scale ad hoc Alps.

Likewise, after our most recent snow, city clearers created a not-so-mini-Matterhorn at the southeast corner of Sixth Street SE and Monticello Avenue, thereby forcing crossers for more than a week to either inch up an icy incline or take a wide swing into moving cars.

And there's a footnote: Let's not forget that the City Hallers currently flunking snow removal (among other key aspects of sidewalk safety) are the very same folks who want more and more of us to live closer and closer together in future– a plan that can only result in radically increased demand for effective city services. Now that's what I call a slippery slope.

Antoinette W. Roades