Tuesday 12 January 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Thank goodness the snow's starting to melt!

It's been so much fun - we've been sledging, made snowmen, and looked up at the sky and felt like we're in a huge snowglobe. And, like Helen last week, I've enjoyed that otherworldly sensation where everything is hushed by the snow, there are no cars or trucks on the roads and the worst of our urban architecture is softened by a white blanket.

But... take another look at the photo above. I took it this morning on the way in to work. The roads are gritted, salted and kept clear. The pavement that I walk to work on is, and has been for the last week or so, a total deathtrap. I've tried wearing work shoes, hiking boots and trainers and have still been sliding all over the place. Friends have been unluckier and have the bruises to prove it.

What does it say about our priorities as a community? Sure, you have to grit the roads - a sliding car is a lot more dangerous to driver and pedestrian than a sliding walker! So I'm not saying grit the pavements and leave the roads icy. But it does say something that our collective priority is to keep the cars moving and not worry too much about the individual on the pavement. Councils respond to the will of the people (or at least they should!); that's why local democracy is so important. I can complain to the council that they haven't gritted the pavements. Or I can help set the agenda for our elected representatives so that these kinds of things are considered as a matter of course in their decision-making. If we want our councils to put the needs of pedestrians ahead of the needs of drivers, in all sorts of ways, we need to make it clear to them that this is what we want.

Equally, I could do something about the pavements myself. Something immediate. I don't know why it didn't occur to me earlier, but when I get home tonight, if there's still ice on the pavement in front of the house, I'm going to get a shovel and clear it away. I'll take responsibility and do something for the community that lives on my street.


  1. Clearly the community impact of snow was on other people's minds too!


  2. One reason for the non-gritting of the pavements is that councils don't want to be sued when people fall over (they also dissuade businesses for the same reason). I guess that's what happens when money becomes the base-line of a society and we don't take responsibility for our own physical bodies.

    Did you pick up that shovel by the way? I saw some very stirling spadework en route to Norwich yesterday!

  3. In the end I didn't need to. By the time I got home there was only a tiny patch left so I kicked it under my hedge to melt. I'll be ready next time though...