Maybe spring is around the corner, but my mind is still on this winter stuff.
On Feb. 18, I wasn’t standing at a bus stop on Queen City Avenue. I was standing in a driveway that had been cleared of snow. Waving my arms like hell, I was hoping the bus driver would take notice of me.
The bus stopped. When I got on, I thanked the driver.
“Hey, I don’t expect my passengers to wait at bus stops in conditions like this,” he said. “People wave me down and I stop for them, don’t want anybody to get hurt trying to get on a bus.”
This was on the Thursday morning after the big snowstorm we had the previous Monday. I had some business to take care of downtown, had a ride up to Queen City Avenue and silly me thought that since the roads were now clear, the sidewalks would be too. They weren’t.
The bus stop at Queen City and boudinot, where I was going to wait for that downtown bus, was encrusted with snow and ice. A mountain of the same stuff was right in front of the stop where the snowplows had scraped it off the main road.
I knew it was going to be tricky for me to try to get over all that icy snow, but when I saw a young guy, probably my son’s age, slip and fall while attempting to do it, I pretty much said “fuck it” out loud. I mean, if this guy couldn’t do it, why would an old fart like me think I could?
That’s when I noticed a clean driveway across the street. That’s when I decided to wave down a bus and just go back home.
The bus driver tuned off Queen City Avenue, making a right onto boudinot. As he started to turn left onto Werk Road, I pulled the chain to get off.
“you gonna try to take that catwalk?” he asked.
These catwalks in my neighborhood are sidewalks that cut through residential property to less traveled side streets.
They’re meant as shortcuts to get you to and from bus stops that are on more prominent streets. They’re very handy and that’s where I wanted to get off.
“you’ll never make it,” the bus driver said.
“Those catwalks are a mess, haven’t been treated at all. Let me drop you off at the next side street. I know it’s been cleaned.”
The bus driver drove up ahead a couple blocks and stopped the bus in front of the cleaned-off side street.
“Walk on the street,” he said. “Now you be careful, but you should be fine.”
And I was fine. The streets that got me back home were in good shape. I had no problem, but this experience on that Thursday morning got me to thinking about some snow jobs — actually a few safety rules we need to have here when it comes to people who want to take public transportation even when it snows.
On that Thursday morning, the roads were fine.
That big snowstorm happened on Monday, so giving the city three days to get all the roads clear was reasonable. Isn’t it also reasonable to have bus stops cleared by then too?
This is a snow job for which someone needs to take responsibility. If the city of Cincinnati isn’t going to do it, then there should be a rule here that states if you own property in front of a bus stop, then it’s your responsibility — within a reasonable amount of time — to clear that bus stop of snow and/or ice. People who want to use public transportation shouldn’t have to risk their lives trying to get on a damn bus.
Now, let’s talk about those catwalks. Here’s another snow job for somebody.
Every one of those shortcut sidewalks in my neighborhood leads to a main drag and a bus stop. This tells me at least once upon a time the city or the neighborhood or both encouraged public transportation, encouraged people to take the bus.
When those catwalks go totally untreated from the elements, is the city and neighborhood now encouraging people to break a hip instead?
I don’t know who owns these catwalks but somebody — the residents whose property they run through or the city — need to take responsibility for them. Again, within a reasonable amount of time, there should be a safety rule stating that these catwalks need to be cleared of snow and ice to make them safe for pedestrians walking to and from the bus stops.
I realize I live in a city where people love to drive their automobiles and I think this winter Cincinnati and its road crews have done an outstanding job keeping our roads clear. yes, I have friends who drive and I know they appreciate those clean roads — but some of us believe in public transportation. Really, shouldn’t the city encourage this line of thinking?
Watching older people with disabilities, women with babies in strollers and others struggle to simply get on a bus because of untreated sidewalks tells me that encouragement is severely lacking. This isn’t right. We need to get those snow jobs and safety rules in place.
The city needs to realize some of us here want to be urban, and just like that kind bus driver on that messy Thursday morning, the city of Cincinnati needs to think and look out for us too.
CONTACT LARRY GROSS: firstname.lastname@example.org