Elizabeth (greyautumnrain) wrote,

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Snow Shoveling and Social Engineering

It snowed last night. Only a few inches of accumulation, but it sure was coming down thickly.

As happens in many situations like this, I shoveled some while the snow was coming down, following our standard procedure of only doing half the width of the sidewalk while it was actually still snowing.

The sidewalks on Powderhouse are about six feet wide. This is probably at least twice as wide as most humans need them to be, so half the sidewalk is plenty given that people don't do a whole lot of walking during a snow storm. We only do half when the snow is actually still coming down because we want people to use only half the sidewalk (the shoveled part) until the snow stops and we have time to clear the other half. Anyone who has shovelled a sidewalk is aware that a) you can't get it to stay clear when the snow is coming down, and b) snow that has been walked on is much more difficult to get up and is prone to turning into an icy mess. By trying to encourage people to only walk on the half that we are keeping less snowy while the stuff is actually coming down, we're hoping that the other half will be virgin snow when the sun comes out, and that we can then be sure of getting that half completely clear. The aim is to guarentee that at least half the sidewalk will not become a frozen death trap once the storm is over.

While this is often at least somewhat successful, there are always people who resist our subtle hints. I'd just finished half the sidewalk last night when some guy moodily came along and moodily trudged through the unshoveled half. Was he angry at me for not doing the whole six foot width? It seems unreasonable considering that none of our neighbors had done any clearing yet as far as I could see. Does anyone have any ideas on how to spread whole half-now-half-when-it-stops method around? I admit, it wouldn't work on the narrower sidewalks, but as a sometimes pedestrian myself I'm in favour or avoiding the trampled-down icy death-trap effect.
Tags: somerville living

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