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Here's to You: Safe surfaces vital in winter

Winter is in full force, and with it comes a little added responsibility as community members.

While some of us can't imagine baring the cold for exercise or travel during the winter months, it is important to recognize that for some people, walking, bicycling and public transit are their only or preferred modes of transportation.

Without a wide, clear path, it can be especially challenging for individuals with disabilities, as well as senior citizens and children, to safely and comfortably navigate throughout our community. As business and property owners and occupants, it is our responsibility to provide local residents and visitors to our community with a clear, safe surface to walk on.

Just a reminder that the Bemidji city ordinance on ice and snow removal states that "any accumulation of snow or ice upon public sidewalks is declared to constitute a public nuisance which shall be abated by the owner or occupant of the property abutting such sidewalk within 12 hours after snow or ice has ceased to be deposited upon such sidewalk" (Bemidji, Minnesota Code of Ordinance Section 20-6, C).

Clear sidewalks show that Bemidji residents take pride in their community and want to provide residents and visitors with a safe surface on which to explore our community.

By eliminating these barriers to physical activity and transportation, we can allow people to live much healthier and happier lives.

Let's make Bemidji the leader in pedestrian and bicycle safety in 2011. You can help make this happen by keeping your sidewalk clear of snow and ice so people may freely move along our streets, looking and stopping for pedestrians and bicyclists in crosswalks, and sharing the road with all modes of transportation.

For more information on the snow removal ordinance or other city codes, visit the City of Bemidji website at


Emily Brooks is programs and promotions coordinator for Active Living Bemidji.