Nothing says I don’t care like an unshoveled sidewalk

Winter in Maine has several sub-seasons: Early winter is dark and full of pagan mystery; mid-winter is cold (that is when Canadians watch hockey and make babies); and late winter is marked by longer days and the low burning sun. Late winter is also the season for sun-baked ice; where snow melts, compacts, and spreads into glacial sheets along sidewalks of the West End and other Portland neighborhoods.

In other words people don’t shovel their sidewalks.  And the city doesn’t enforce the ordinance that says they must.

Icy sidewalks are unsafe. They force pedestrians into their cars (or into the street). And while it can be a pain to shovel snow and chip up ice, there are plenty of people in town who would be happy to smash some ice for $20.

Indeed this is hardly an insurmountable problem, fines, enforcement, a sidewalk tax are all workable solutions. Indeed the cities of Biddeford and Saco have a riding snow-blower that travels the streets clearing both brick and bituminous sidewalks.

While some may grumble about the cost of a dedicated sidewalk machine, consider that Portland can run the program for five years for about the cost of one lawsuit.


Zack Barowitz

About Zack Barowitz

Zack Barowitz is a writer, artist, and flâneur. He is the radio host of "This Land Is" on WMPG Tuesday nights at 7:30. His work can be seen at