These Denver Neighborhoods Have The Most Trouble Clearing Snow Off Sidewalks

February 2, 2016
Photo: Clearing snow along 23rd Avenue in Denver on Feb. 2, 2016
Clearing the sidewalk along 23rd Avenue in Denver on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. 

Now that the snow has finished falling, it's time to pull out the shovel or fire up the snowblower and clear the sidewalks. Or, if you're more like me, it's time to start grumbling about how other people need to clear their sidewalks.

In Denver, that grumbling is actually a part of how the city identifies problem areas -- Denver uses 311 calls to identify sidewalks that need to be cleared. Then a city inspector comes by and leaves a notice of violation. If the sidewalk isn't clear when the inspector comes back a second time, that can result in citation with $150 fine. 

And when it comes to problem sidewalks, the Capitol Hill and Speer neighborhoods were the biggest complainers in 2014 and 2015. 

But this isn't a perfect measure for where the most sidewalks actually go unshoveled. Part of what the map shows is the areas where people know to complain when they see a sidewalk that's dangerous or icy. 

And the West Washington Park Neighborhood Association, which covers the parts of  the Speer and West Wash Park neighborhoods, encourages people to call in complaints, says the association's president Nick Amrhein. 

"It's possible that people may just be more aware of that outlet for making complaints and having been longer time residents, more likely to want to make some that's not right in the neighborhood get fixed," Amrhein said.

The University neighborhood, which had the third most complaints, has a mix of residential renters and homeowners, says University Neighbors' communications liason Becky Gallagher. Some of the residential renters are "in the beginning stages of adulthood" and might not always prioritize shoveling their walk, she says.

"I think that those people who are residents next to them get frustrated pretty quickly and they do a lot complaining because of that," Gallagher said.

But it's a mix of many different factors, Gallagher says, including that the sidewalks in the neighborhood are often cracked and hard to shovel. 

As for Washington Park, the high number of complaints could have to do with all the people walking to the park. 

"Just a thought," said Washington Park East Neighborhood Association President Tim McHugh. "A lot of people walk the neighborhood on their way to the park I would guess."

So how does a neighborhood end up with less complaints? Over in Park Hill, some neighbors shovel more than just their own walk, says Rebecca Born, executive director of Greater Park Hill Community Inc.

"I can tell when I walk if someone's done the whole block because of their style so to speak," Born said. "But also I think a lot of our neighbors have lived here 30 plus years and when you have that, you understand more why your neighbor can't shovel that properly and maybe that's why we don't get as many complaints. It's not that everyone always has a great cleared sidewalk, that's not it."

It's also possible that neighborhoods closer to downtown may be expected to shovel more because they're closer to the central business improvement district, which pays for snow removal, says Andrea Burns, communications director for Denver's Community Planning and Development Department.

Plus neighborhoods further away from downtown may be more suburban and car-centric. Still, wherever you are, it's important to shovel your walk.

"It's so important for so many people from so many different walks of life to have safe and clear sidewalks throughout the winter," said Burns. "We really encourage people to step up and help a neighbor in need if he or she can't shovel their own walk."

So no more grumbling then.

How's your neighborhood look after a snow storm? Share a comment below.