Snow is my enemy! Snow can trap me in my home, prevent me from getting places I want to go, and it needs to be cold to snow. Snow is beautiful and I do like to look at it; however, in my perfect world it would never snow on streets or sidewalks, then snow would not be my enemy (just the cold).
Alas, I live in the real world and even though snow often melts quickly in southern Colorado, sometimes it does not. It snowed Monday and, because it has been very cold, there is still a lot of snow everywhere even though we only got three or four inches of snow at most (in my part of town). A lot of snow makes getting places using a wheelchair difficult.
I do not usually have too much trouble using my wheelchair on the day it snows. The snow is usually soft and easy to drive on when it first falls. The snow problems usually start the second day. The snowplows clear the streets by pushing snow on the sidewalks and putting it in piles in front of sidewalk curb cuts. Those snow piles can easily be 12 inches high even with only three inches of snow. Then the snow freezes in giant ice chunks.
My biggest issue with trying to get around in the snow is using the bus to do so. Our bus system has a very inconsistent approach to snow removal at bus stops. We have had enough snow to shovel four or five times already this year. Each time the bus stop nearest my house had been shoveled. The first time, the cleared snow was piled on the sidewalk so instead of trying to drive on top of three inches of snow, there were eight-inch ridges of ice preventing me from accessing the bus stop. Fortunately, someone else was waiting for the same bus so I waited at the next driveway and the other passenger asked the bus driver to pick me up there. The other times, the snow has been shoveled into the trees and off the walking (rolling) path.
My closest stop does not get lots of traffic. I would be surprised if more than ten people a day get on and off at my stop, so I was impressed that it warranted snow removal this year. More than 50 percent of the time I am getting off the bus at the hospital for cancer treatment related appointments. The stop across the street from the hospital has never had the snow removed this year at all. Each time it snows I get to bump across icy ruts to get off the bus. I would be surprised if less than 40 people a day get on and off at this stop (many of them using wheelchairs and walkers), so I do not understand why such a busy stop is not cleared.
The other issue is that when a stop does have the snow cleared, only the stop is cleared. My closest stop is approximately 50 feet from the end of the block; there is eight feet cleared for the stop. This morning I got to bump over 45 feet of icy, packed, rutted snow to access the bus stop. It is only 15 feet from the other direction, but there was one of those lovely, six-inch tall, plowed ice chunks blocking the path.
I was planning to go to the bank today on my way home from my blood draw. I checked out the bus stops which I could use to get off the bus and two were not cleared and the bus would not be able to even put out its ramp. The third stop had several inches of plowed ice pack blocking the curb cut and I could not see if the stop was cleared from my angle across the street.
My piece of advice to you is to adapt when your surroundings will not. I have chemotherapy treatment tomorrow, so I can check the stops tomorrow on my way out to see if there has been enough snow melt off for me to access any of the three stops and go to the bank on my way home. If not, I have a shot at the hospital on Monday with three 50-degree days of ice melting in between.
Until next time,
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