New York City barely had any snow last season, but Old Man Winter never forgets. The Big Apple faced a big dig in mid-December after forecasters predicted more than a foot of flakes and a white Christmas in 2020. That means heightened risks for millions of pedestrians who rely on their feet to navigate this dense metropolis’ frozen sidewalks, icy intersections and slippery subway stairs.
Visibility and walking can be treacherous because there is limited space to pile up snow. Until it melts, owners are responsible for clearing snow and ice from residential and commercial properties, not the city. Porches, sidewalks and parking lots must be plowed. It also is illegal to shovel snow onto the street, bus stops or fire hydrants.
But unfortunately, pedestrians cannot always rely on others to stay safe. Especially when it is snowing sideways, the winds are howling and all you want to do is get somewhere warm and dry.
How can city residents stay safe?
Everyone knows about defensive driving. Well, the same principles apply to walkers and joggers. Keep your head on a swivel and focus on what your feet are doing to help avoid serious slip-and-fall injuries or colliding with a moving vehicle.
Here are more valuable tips about traversing New York streets during winter:
- Dress for the part: Layers, a waterproof coat, plus a hat, gloves and sturdy boots for slushy puddles are non-negotiable when making fashion choices.
- Stand out: Reflective clothes will help motorists and taxi drivers take notice while using a flashlight at night can illuminate black ice and potholes.
- Look before you step: Pay attention to pedestrian signals, look both ways before crossing a street and do not assume a driver will stop for you.
- Holster the smartphone: Texting or listening to music robs you of the visual, audio and cognitive senses that can signal.
- Have a plan: Know in advance which direction you will be walking and whether the sidewalks and streets have been plowed.
It is always wise to stand back from intersections and street corners. Not only will it help you avoid slipping into whizzing traffic but give you more time and space to avoid getting splashed with dirty snow and slush.
Meanwhile, do not assume the danger ends with the snowfall. Melting and re-freezing can leave walkways slippery for days, weeks or months. Plunging icicles can become daggers for unsuspecting pedestrians.
A false sense of security
Only 4.8 inches of snow fell in Central Park last winter, the lowest amount since 2001-02. Usually, the city gets 26 inches of snow every season. This December blizzard should remind pedestrians not to be lulled into a false sense of security.
Slip-and-fall accidents are common causes of emergency room visits. Victims typically suffer head injuries, broken bones and cuts that can cause long-term pain and rob them of work and quality of life.
Talking to a personal injury attorney experienced in New York law may determine whether a property owner was negligent. A viable case may provide you or a loved one compensation for lost wages and suffering.