Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Toddled off to the store today...

Despite being so 2011, Galaxy SII takes a mean snapshot.
 Pretty idyllic-looking here in SoBro, no? But not so fast! Treachery lurks right beneath the surface!

Notice that some of our neighbors, in this case SWPLs whose landscaping is Just So in the summer months, are a little dilatory about clearing the winter off the walk. See that footie-printed stretch of sidewalk directly ahead?

Saturday's predicted "three-to-five inches of snow" in Indianapolis was more like "two-to-three inches of slush". It landed atop whatever the neighbors had already left uncleared from an earlier snowfall, causing the sidewalks to look as though an Italian ice machine had thrown up on them, and then froze rock solid that night.

A little dusting of snow then came along to make it look okay to walk on but it is not! Those are fossil footprints! Note all the dark ice sticking up around the footieprints in the bottom photo.

Those sidewalks were rock-hard glass-slick crater-covered ankle-twisting boobytraps.

Don't be a douche, SoBro; clear your walks. If you don't want to deal with that part of city living, go live out among the Applebee's-Americans where they don't have sidewalks.


aczarnowski said...

Yes. Don't be a douche.

Walking our golden retrievers every day in Minneapolis we have seen it all. Ankle support is a good thing. STABILicers are far superior to Yaktrax.

On the bright side I think I might have found a replacement for my favorite, and long serving, snow shovel. It's sure been getting a lot of chances to claim the title this winter. Sheesh.

rremington said...

SWPL? SouthWest Pistol League? ;)

Anonymous said...

Living in southern Arizona is better than stabilicers or yaktrax, whatever those are.... 70 F today.

Tam said...

While it's true that you don't have to shovel heat, a sweatball fight is gross, and building a sweatman in your front yard is against most municipal codes.

Gordon R. Brown said...

What? Nap City doesn't have code enforcement people that write tickets when people don't shovel their sidewalks within 24 hours after the snow stops?

Scott J said...


I'll have you know I haven't set foot in one of those in over a year :)

fast richard said...

Yeah, that kind of rough slippery ice can be treacherous even for those without ankle problems. I'm not home enough to really keep the driveway properly cleared. I try to get it done when I am home. It's probably just as well that I don't have a sidewalk.

TXGunGeek said...

Hey now! Watch that Applebees Americans carp. We not only don't have sidewalks, we don't even have paved roads.

KM said...

City property = city maintenance.
If it isn't my property it isn't my problem.

Mike_C said...

I'd happily trade my street-parking neighbor (who has off-street parking but can't be arsed to use it for some reason) for your nonshoveling-but-gardening SWPLs if that were possible. My street is steep, twisty and narrow, as in width of two cars plus about 4 feet. With winter snow and ice the street is downright treacherous. And functionally narrower.

Many's the time I've been out shovelling snow and some (appropriately) angry motorist can't get his car around the bend what with the intrinsic narrowness of the road, the snow/ice banks and that damned car on the street. Not uncommonly the motorist gets out of his car and comes over to yell at me (because neighbor liked to park directly across from my driveway, causing the hypothetical Reasonable Man to assume it's my car, because what kind of asshole would block someone else's driveway unnecessarily) and threaten to call the police to have "my car" towed away as a hazard to navigation.

We'll see if it's an issue again this winter. Finally broke the neighbor of parking directly across from my driveway (not easy to pull out with less than a car's length in which to do it especially when it's icy all over) but never got an understanding as to why he did it for so long despite over a year of polite hints followed by direct verbal requests. A nighttime face-to-face confrontation followed by weeks of glares I did get after a stern (but non-profane) note finally did the trick. I suspect it's a combination of "that's how we do it where I come from so who are you to impose your American expectations on me" and my being a damned kafir, but I'll probably never know for sure because after the glaring got old I apparently became transparent to his eyes. It's soul-crushing, but I think I'm bearing up as well as can be expected.

Tam said...


"City property = city maintenance.
If it isn't my property it isn't my problem.

You know, I'll buy that if the city came by and built a sidewalk across your yard one day.

But if the sidewalk was there when you bought the house? Pick up a shovel, lazybones.

Tam said...

(Also, at least here in Indy, if somebody slips and busts their ass on it, you'll find out whose property that sidewalk is on pretty darn quickly. :o )

Don M said...

I am sure that we don't have a better class of citizen here, but I haven't seen a sidewalk covered with snow for about 5 years.

Our people must be doing a good job of being public spirited here in San Diego.


KM said...

What other city property are you responsible for? Can someone please take Wednesdays to clean up puke in the city lockup from the piss bums and wash the windows?
I'm busy on Wednesdays.

I understand the sentiment of shoveling snow on the sidewalk to be a good do-bee. I don't agree with it but I understand it. (I used to live in WI)
I hope you can understand that even if the snow is shoveled to the best of someone's ability, it's fucking slippery in Dec in snow country.
If the sidewalk is my responsibilty can I put up barricades that say "Unsafe/Danger/Peligro" and force pedestrians to go elsewhere?
If that answer is no because it's city property,'s *city* property.
I'm just playing devil's advocate.
I don't have to worry about snow in Phx, AZ unless I want to go North to it.

Weer'd Beard said...

The other day when I was shoveling I saw some lunatic pedal past me on a bike!

The snow was still falling and the plow hadn't even gone by yet. I watched him until he was out of sight, simply amazed he didn't go ass-over teakettle.

Some people!

Tam said...


"What other city property are you responsible for?"

Which part of "The sidewalk is on YOUR property" are you having difficulty understanding? If your neighbor busts ass on the sidewalk in front of your house, it's going to be your homeowner's insurance shelling out, not the city's.

For another piece of property you're responsible for, how about the dirt line from your house to the sewer connection. See what happens if you let that break and just decide to dig a hole in the back yard.

It's not very wookie-suiter, I know, but there you go. Such are the sacrifices of living cheek-by-jowl with other people so you can walk to get a pint of good beer.

If the sidewalk was there when you bought the house, it's not befitting to get all like a kid who doesn't want to clean his room come December. "I don't wanna shovel! I don't wanna! Don'twannawannawanna!"

Tam said...

"I hope you can understand that even if the snow is shoveled to the best of someone's ability, it's fucking slippery in Dec in snow country. "

I hope you understand that's bullshit. There will be five houses in a row of neatly shoveled, salted walk, and then two Captain Ojectivisms! and then another two cleared walks...

Keith said...

Do you have to sign something acknowledging you responsibility for the sidewalks when you rent or buy a proprietary there? I'm sure there must be case law somewhere regarding who is responsible for what parts of sidewalk maintenance.

Perhaps if one shoveld walks in a wookie suit things would balance themselves out.

Anonymous said...

When we lived in town in Northern Kentucky, our attorney advised us NOT to shovel the walks. The courts would hold you harmless if you did not clear them and someone fell or otherwise got hurt. Act of God sort of thing. However, if you did attempt to clear them and then someone got hurt, then you failed to do a proper job of it and you would have liability. The attorney was our neighbor and he did not clear his. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

In my part of the Mid-West, the city can mandate you to contract and pay for the installation of a sidewalk, as well as any future repairs should it buckle or crack. Several years ago, city crews came through my neighborhood marking sections to be repaired. Notices were then issued to the effected homeowners, ordering that the repairs be completed by a given date.

Jim said...

This is too easily solved.

Simply post signs saying "Public Skating Rink" on either end of your sidewalk, along with "Use At Your Own Risk, No Lifeguard Present".

What? Attractive Nuisance?



Sunk New Dawn
Galveston (74 degrees), Texas

Scott J said...

I'm getting visions of clearing the walk with a flamethrower.

Probably a good thing I don't live in snow country :)

global village idiot said...

It's a douchecanoe flotilla today.

Ferchrissakes, it's the decent thing to do. You shovel your walk because it's what you do without needing to be ordered to, or threatened for non-compliance, or fear of lawsuits (or the reverse), or anything.

Uber-individualists would add much to their credibility if they weren't such misanthropic d-bags.

KM said...

Jeez, I said I was playing Devils Advocate. I never dreamed that the peeve needed petting that bad.

Which part of "The sidewalk is on YOUR property" are you having difficulty understanding?

The part where it's on MY property.
It's a regional misunderstanding thing.
Where I lived in Wisconsin, there weren't any sidewalks in front of the houses. Even though the neighbors houses were stacked 50' away, for blocks on end, they didn't build sidewalks.
Those were only in town and they were ice rinks from about Nov-Apr. We didn't live downtown, we lived 5 miles outside of Podunk Proper. We didn't go for a 'walk to the local eatery' because there weren't any!

Here in the Valley of the Sun, your property and your liability/responsibility ends where the sidewalk starts. If the sidewalk turns into a giant fustercluck for some weird reason, it's the city's problem.
That sewer line that might break or the water line? Pray it's at or past the sidewalk, then it's not your baby.

I'm wasn't advocating the destruction of the universe, total anarchy or dialing back human race relations 3000 years.
I've just never owned a sidewalk. In this region of the country, the whole concept is foreign.

global village idiot said...

Then why did you expend so much bandwidth holding forth on it?

The devil really doesn't need an advocate. The bar associations of the several states have a surplus already.

However much "wookie-suiters" would like to think otherwise, libertarianism has an idealist tendency which is very nearly similar to dBi, the "Ideal" dipole from ham radio.

No such antenna exists in any guise, yet it's talked about and referred to often enough in literature and in fact it's as good a starting point as any.

Leaving the simile where it belongs, what libertarian worth his bowcaster would want the State picking up the tab for something which is simply the cost of living in society?

There is nothing inherently contradictory with a libertarian expecting his neighbors to be, y'know...neighborly. Nor does libertarianism decline to recognize that there are unwritten rules to social interaction, the infraction of which ought not to involve going to law - and yet, these rules are or ought to be as inviolable as statute laws against fraud or theft.

Even more so, I would argue, for these unwritten social boundaries of behavior grew over time and out of mutual consent as to their prudence.

I'm under no legal obligation to my neighbors, but what sort of neighbor - indeed, what sort of human being - would I be if I declined to do things like mow my lawn, shovel my walk or help the old couple across the street, simply because "not my property, not my problem"?

I'd be a douchebag, that's what I'd be.

Shoveling a sidewalk is a neighborly thing to do. You may not own the walk outright but it's your responsibility as a homeowner and as a grown-up to keep it clean for others' use.

"Crusaders" of all political persuasions tend to forget the costs and responsibilities attendant to their pet philosophy and only focus on the benefits. The plain truth is that forms of behavior, social norms and courtesies are the lubricant which keeps the machine of humanity running.


Anonymous said...

As I understand it, at least in Michigan, the sidewalk is considered an easement. The city has the right to declare it public space, but it is ultimately your responsibility to maintain it.

If you choose to not maintain it (shoveling, salting, repairing) then you can and will be held financially responsible for any injuries incurred on that section of your property.

In the same vein, out here in Countryside, MI, the natural gas company had an easement on our property for a pipeline. Although we owned the property and paid taxes on it, by contractual obligation we were not permitted to actually DO anything on our property (planing trees, building a fallout shelter) that might damage the pipeline.

The contractual agreement that you have with the city is the default one that everybody has upon moving to a given location. It's called The Law. You break it, you pay for it.


DaddyBear said...

Growing up on the frozen tundra, there was a bit of public shaming of those who didn't clear away the snow, and the police weren't too proud to cite someone who wasn't doing their job.

It's one of the things that makes my wife crazy. As soon as the first flakes start sticking to the driveway, I'm out there with my shovel. Of course, down here in Indiucky, 9 times out of 10, it'll melt off in a day or so, but that's beside the point.

global village idiot said...

I can explain a bit about easements and rights-of-way. It's part of what I do for a living.

When you own property, it's best to say you own a bundle of rights to the property, the principal one being that of "occupation," or the right to be on it AND keep people off of it. You have others as well and if you want to look them up, feel free - listing them all would make this post unnecessarily long.

An easement is exactly this: It is you giving someone else permission to do something on your property. We have utility easements which give the electric, sewer, water, gas etc. companies the right to come onto our properties to install and maintain their services to our homes. In the quid-pro-quo of the agreement, they provide the services and we have to provide them access in order to do it. If you're in a rural area you can extinguish the easement but the utility will take their stuff and leave, and why not?

Similarly, in most subdivisions a portion of each property is dedicated to public utility easements. This is so the various utilities can put their services in the best places to serve all the lots. These easements are dedicated upon platting the subdivision and they carry forward upon purchase of an individual lot or the transfer of same. Unlike rural customers, you can't extinguish an easement in a subdivision.

There are other easements, such as "ingress/egress" easements where you allow a "land-locked" parcel access to a road across a portion of your property, or "daylight" easements in big cities where a building can't be so tall it keeps its neighbors perpetually in darkness, and so forth.

Rights-of-way are different. They are dedicated to the public use and subdivision lot owners have no rights in them, though we have responsibilities such as lawn mowing and snow shoveling (see my post above). Rural land owners often have property descriptions which go to a centerline of a road; however, the road is dedicated to the public and the owner cannot fence in his half. This is a common law principle which goes back many centuries.

Electric companies and railroads often have rights-of-way for high tension towers and railways. When these are extinguished (as when a railroad is abandoned), the right-of-way reverts back to the owners on each side of it. Sometimes, however - Tam's Monon Trail is an excellent example - a conservancy buys up the abandoned right-of-way and uses it for other public purposes. I have worked on properties where both conditions have occurred - that of reversion and that of "rails-to-trails" conservancies.