As a winter storm ripped through Chapel Hill on Friday, it left streets and sidewalks covered in a mixture of snow and ice — meanwhile, efforts to clear sidewalks were, and continue to be, nonexistent.
Pedestrians continue to hike over mounds of snow that were deposited by plows and blocked crosswalk entrances.
Chapel Hill residents are demanding change. A newly-created petition on change.org has been created, calling for the town to make clearing the sidewalks a priority for the next storm.
"We encourage folks who are healthy to assist neighbors who may need help shoveling,” Barry McLamb, emergency management coordinator for the Town of Chapel Hill, said in an email. "We do not hold anyone responsible for not clearing their sidewalks."
According to McLamb, the town is only responsible for clearing snow and ice from pedestrian walkways at public facilities and properties maintained by the town.
"We are concerned about pedestrian safety – and during an emergency situation, we are working to bring our community back to normal," he said.
But some UNC students are still displeased with the town's efforts to take care of the aftereffects of winter weather.
“I have pretty good balance and have experience walking on ice because I am from New Jersey, originally, but for older people and people who see snow only a few times a year, it is a serious safety issue, and it leaves the town and its residents really unproductive because they can’t walk anywhere," said Eric Przedpelski, a UNC junior.
UNC’s student athletes, who rely on the city streets to train, also expressed frustration.
“With all this ice and snow, running in and around Chapel Hill becomes really dangerous,” said Aly Chura, a member of UNC's club cross country team. “It also affects training pace and increases risk of injury."
Chura said her team runs along routes that use sidewalks and less popular pathways, most of which are covered in ice and slush.
When asked about plans for fixing this problem in the future, McLamb offered no immediate solutions to the safety concern.
"It’s important to remember that this storm was an ice storm with little snow,” McLamb said in an email. "We are constantly providing our drivers with feedback on their performance and ways to minimize the occurrence of snow on sidewalks."
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