|Road users like him can "bank" on snow obstructions.|
Major public roadways are plowed on the public dime. The burden of clearing sidewalks, however, rests on individual property owners, even though they too are public facilities in the public right-of-way. Outside downtown districts where business associations or development authorities take on the task, it's apparent that the obligation often goes unfulfilled.
Even where sidewalks are cleared, street plowing often comes at the expense of pedestrians, pushing up large banks at curb cuts. For some on the sidewalks, these piles are only an irritant. For others, like the motorized wheelchair user in Detroit above, they're an insurmountable obstruction that poses a real danger of physical harm, since they make sharing the road with high-speed car traffic the only way to get around.
The problems aren't limited to suburban locations where few pedestrians venture. On Woodward Avenue, metropolitan Detroit's main street, snow frequently still covers sidewalks in heavily trafficked parts of the downtown and Cultural Center areas days after snowfall. Vacant lots, like the City-owned properties on Woodward south of Temple, were least likely to have their sidewalks cleared. However, a walk around the Central Business District reveals plenty of occupied buildings and parking lots in violation of their civic obligations.
Unfortunately, given the troubled finances of most Michigan municipalities, citizens may be forced to take the law into their own hands. It's up to you to decide whether that means applying snow paint to shame offenders, or just grabbing a shovel and going to work.