LETTER: Transit users in Surrey get cold shoulder when snow falls

Clearing residential streets is important in such a car-dependent community. But so is keeping transit riders safe and uninjured.

Accidents

Accidents

The Editor,

Re: “Icy B.C.,” the Now, Jan. 5.

I was dismayed to read that, yet again, Surrey council is placing its car-owning citizens ahead of those of us who use transit. In explaining why it will clear roadways but not sidewalks, Surrey’s manager of engineering operations Rob Costanzo explains that it is the responsibility of adjacent property owners to clear sidewalks.

Such a policy might be all very well in Vancouver, where businesses and residences front directly onto sidewalks. But even there, it is proving woefully insufficient.

Here in Surrey, our street layout –with its big-box malls, strip malls and enclosed residential subdivisions – means sidewalks are typically remote from businesses and residences. It is unclear as to who is responsible for clearing them. As a result, there is almost no sidewalk clearing on the major streets where buses run.

Transit users tend to be older, poorer and more likely to suffer from physical disabilities. It is very literally cold comfort for a retiree with arthritis and balance issues to hear that the ice sheet that is their morning walk to the bus is the responsibility of a person or business dozens or hundreds of metres away.

Clearing residential streets is important in such a car-dependent community. But so is keeping transit riders safe and uninjured. Our city needs to stop assigning blame and start taking responsibility.

Stuart Parker, Surrey