The city can come down hard on property owners who fail to clear their sidewalks after a snowstorm, but some residents in Queens are complaining of a double standard between them and city officials when it comes to clearing icy sidewalks. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
Walking in traffic may seem unwise, until you realize that the alternative is sidewalks coated with weeks of accumulated ice and snow.
"I have to walk in the street because they don't take care of it. They don't take care of the sidewalks," said one pedestrian.
One particular stretch of Queens sidewalk lies on a railroad overpass and is city property. It's one of many where residents complain the city is not practicing what it preaches.
In Elmhurst along the Long Island Expressway, the Parks Department plowed a short stretch of sidewalk but then stopped, leaving a mound of snow, then several blocks of icy footing.
"We know it's city property. It's not homeowners, it's not state property. It's a city property. It's a sidewalk. Why don't they shovel?" said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.
Holden's civic association has tried, unsuccessfully, to remedy the situation.
NY1 happened to arrive to take a look just moments after an elderly woman slipped and fell on her face. Within a few minutes, paramedics arrived. She was eventually transported for further testing.
"I saw her go straight down, boom. Took a header right into the sidewalk," said a pedestrian.
Under the city's administrative law code, property owners have four hours from the time it stops snowing to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks along their property. If it stops snowing after 9 p.m., you have until 11 a.m. the following morning. Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to a $150 for a first offense.
"If they're going to fine homeowners and businesses who must shovel within four hours, how about within four days, Mr. Mayor? How about within four weeks of a snowstorm that we get something shoveled here?" Holden said.
The mayor, of course, has diligently cleared his own sidewalks, but it's sometimes unclear if a sidewalk is the responsibility of the Parks, Transportation or Sanitation Department. A sanitation spokesman couldn't tell NY1 for sure who's responsible here.