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caption: Snow blankets the sidewalks of Seattle's University District, but doesn't stick long on University Avenue, Jan. 13, 2020.
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Snow blankets the sidewalks of Seattle's University District, but doesn't stick long on University Avenue, Jan. 13, 2020.
Credit: Dyer Oxley | KUOW

Did you shovel your sidewalk? You were supposed to.

Seattle transportation officials are reminding homeowners of their obligation to keep walkways clear of ice and snow. No new snow fell on Seattle Tuesday night but many sidewalks throughout town were frozen over and impassable.

Snowstorms may not be common enough in Seattle for everyone to own a shovel or keep de-icing salt on hand, but residents are still required to keep walkways clear.

“It's especially important for people with specific needs,” said Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson Ethan Bergerson. “For example, people who are in a wheelchair or people who are blind who cannot get around if there's snow or ice on the sidewalks.”

Bergerson said last February’s snowstorm, which completely shut down some Seattle neighborhoods was a lesson the city did not want to repeat.

“We heard from people who had disabilities who were trapped inside their houses for up to a week, not able to go to doctor’s appointments, not able to go the grocery store because they can't leave their house when there's snow or ice on the sidewalks,” Bergerson said.

Seattle Municipal Code states that “property owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to their property.” That includes landlords and business owners but Bergerson said everyone, including renters, should pitch in to help keep the over 2,000 miles of city sidewalks accessible.

“This is something that is not just about what's the law,” he added. “It's really about what's the right thing to do.”

Seattle Department of Transportation officials said paths should be cleared at least 36 inches wide to allow room for people in wheelchairs. Bergerson reminds shovelers to also look around their property for other walking hazards.

“If you're nearby a curb ramp, those are essential for people with disabilities,” Bergerson said. “Another thing [is] the storm drains. If those freeze over or ... covered with snow, then water can't drain and that leads to more ice.”

A mix of rain and snow is in the forecast for Seattle Wednesday with overnight temperatures near freezing Wednesday and Thursday nights.