Sometimes a heavy snowfall can be a safety hazard for pedestrians. Once the snow is falling, making sure people can still get around turns into a group effort.
Because slipping on ice or tripping over snow is reason enough for some people to stay inside, but others don’t have that option. Ken Henderson walks through downtown Erie every day and he says his path can be dangerous in the winter. “When people come through, they fall; they still fall. I almost fell a couple times coming through here and I’m carrying groceries.” Henderson says Erie’s snow removal services need to be better.
Technically, the city and the business owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks. The General Manager at Molly Brannigans, Katie Gallagher, tells us when the snow falls, they know how to handle the added workload. “It’s a constant thing. I’d say every half hour or so we go ahead and salt and gravel. That way nobody’s slipping and falling or anything.”
Keeping the sidewalks clean isn’t just on the businesses. The Erie Downtown Partnership also has a service to make sure this area is pedestrian friendly. John Buchna of EDP tells us, “The whole base premise is if you can get to the business, you can support that business.”
The partnership manages a crew to plow the sidewalks, that service catering to business hours, rather than nighttime events, but Buchna says there could be room for changes down the line. “In order for us to improve downtown, that’s an area that needs to be looked at and how is it we can add more service to get more people to the venues more safely.”
Because keeping a walkable downtown during an Erie winter is a team effort. Buchna says the partnership’s crews typically arrive around 3:30 in the morning after a snowfall, but if there is a major event, they try to arrange extra care so people can get to the venue. Ultimately, it is on the businesses themselves to clear the storefronts.