Fines rarely enforced for unshoveled sidewalks

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The non-stop winter weather is causing safety concerns on city sidewalks.

School children and other pedestrians are forced to walk in the street because no one shoveled the sidewalk.

It's treacherous and even life-threatening. We saw a mother and child walking hand-in-hand in the street near 25th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Friday at rush hour.

Schoolchildren getting off at a school bus stop had to get off in the street, not the curb, because the sidewalk is not shoveled.

"You've got to walk in the streets," said one resident, Bill, who adds there is no other choice.

In Avon Wednesday night, a man walking on the dark, icy shoulder of Rockville Road at 10 p.m. was hit and killed.

Whether it's no sidewalks as in Avon, or no cleared sidewalks, "you could be hit by a car or something like that," Bill said.

The law in Indianapolis says about 12 hours after a storm, sidewalks must be cleared. There's a $50 fine. But "from the records we have the last three years, they have not been fined. Lets explain that for a minute," said Indianapolis Code Enforcement's Adam Baker.

Baker says the way the 40-year-old law is written the violator must be given a summons and called to court. Months later, there could be a trial and it would all cost much more than the $50 fine.

So the city uses other methods.

"Anytime people call the Mayor's Action Center on a given property, a given business, a given area, we'll send people out to that area. Our inspectors specifically talk to those businesses and citizens," Baker said.

If code inspectors are out on one call and see an uncleared walk nearby, they give the owner a flyer laying out the rules.

"Explain their civic responsibility," Baker said.

Before the snow even falls, the city says it reminds business of the law. He says people comply.

"We have yet to get a call back on properties that were initially called. To us, that's a success," Baker said.

Until those sidewalks are cleared, however, drivers need to watch out for pedestrians forced to walk in the street. We caught one woman pulling a rolling suitcase in a traffic lane during rush hour, further north on MLK.

"I can't walk on the sidewalks," she said. "It's very annoying. Just to shovel some snow, it would help tremendously."