After snow storms, instead of a white winter wonderland, Queens thoroughfares turned into slushy, icy danger zones for pedestrians, left wondering who is supposed to clear the corners and sidewalks.
In addition to dealing with icy roads, pedestrians found themselves maneuvering through mounds of snow and ice left on the sidewalks. Corners and crosswalks are rarely cleared and are hazardous as the temperatures drop.
“The problem is the rain and [melting] snow might flood places,” said Dian Yu, executive director of the Downtown Flushing Business Improvement District (BID).
Although the city streets appeared to be clean in between winter storms, it is the sidewalks, corners and crosswalks that continued to plague anyone on foot.
“There are portions that are almost dangerous,” said Juan Erancibio, 47, from Flushing.
In Flushing, sidewalk cleanup has fallen on commercial property owners and crosswalks are being handled by the BID.
“The crosswalks are the responsibility of the BID and we comply and for sidewalks, it’s the business owners,” Yu said. “We have our own crew and are responsible to clean up the paths.”
Residents complained that certain local businesses have not been taking part in cleaning their sections of the sidewalk.
“I have noticed that whenever it snows, no one cleans up the sidewalk,” said W. Singh, local resident from Flushing.
The lack of snow cleanup on the sidewalks resulted in unwanted delays, slow commutes, and potential accidents.
“My 15-minute walk took an extra 10 minutes, plus my cell phone landed in snow and ice on the sidewalk,” said Christopher Moore, 25.
According to Moore, some storefronts chose to prioritize making more money, rather than cleaning up the sidewalk in front of their business.
“I think businesses got to a slow start when it comes to cleaning,” Moore said. “Their priorities shifted.”
Commercial owners also have focused on putting out the garbage instead of shoveling and removing the ice.
“Businesses just handle the garbage on the street,” said Sharada Devi, executive director of the 82nd Street Business Improvement District in Jackson Heights.
Erancibio said the severity of the weather and unexpected results left behind by the storm may have played into the delay of sidewalk cleanup.
“There is an inability to know it’s coming, but be on it from the start,” Erancibio said.

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