Who should clear the snow on the pavements?
I sympathise with commenters who make the point that it is simply not worth it for the UK to invest in expensive snow clearing equipment, when we only get covered with the stuff very rarely. But it doesn't mean that we shouldn't do anything at all.
Today I biked into the office -- the roads being relatively clear, unlike the pavements. But my bike jammed up for the return journey. Since it was 'serviced' two weeks ago, the brakes have 'stuck' almost every time I've used them --and, as they are internal hub brakes, you can't get at them to un-stick them. So, as I pushed the thing home, I had plenty of time to observe the pavements at close quarters.
They were lethal.
What intrigued me was why no one had come outside their houses or shops and actually cleared the snow and slush away. I've been in the States when people have got up early to do just that; and the husband remembers (as I do vaguely) when everyone here was asked to clear their frontage and pile the snow along the kerb. Is there some health and safety issue? Could someone sue the local council for recommending the private street clearing if they fell over the snow along the kerb?
My students were amazed by the messy Cambridge pavements. In Belgium, one Belgian student observed, people were REQUIRED to clear their house frontage. I forgot to quiz her about the H and S issues
I also began to wonder about the economic argument. Sure, the ploughs must be pricy. But during my walks around the town, I saw at least three nasty falls. Assuming that two of them ended up in the hospital -- and assuming that there was a lot worse that I didn't see -- how much did all this 'do nothing' attitude to the snow actually cost the NHS?
Of course, that would come out of a different budget from the snow ploughs. So what happened to joined up thinking?