Residential snow removal and safety…

Or, how those quick moving snowplows and snow blowers are a hazard to pedestrians and other vehicles.

Winter is winding down once again, and city crews are out clearing back snow banks to ensure that the storm drains are clear in order to mitigate against flooding. These crews take care. They have signs, flag guys, and they ensure that pedestrians and cars are top of mind.

And then there are the residential driveway clearing cowboys.

Shortly after each storm, the streets are filled with snow clearing equipment of every shape and size. But in urban residential areas, these are usually backhoes with snowblowers hooked up to their power take-off, or mini-kubotas with plows and blowers or just about any small sized vehicle. Their size allows them to fit between cars and navigate snow filled streets and lanes.

And they are quick. Real quick. The owners want them to be quick because the faster they can clear the lanes of their customers (who usually pay a contract price for the full winter before the first flake had fallen), the happier the customers will be and they’ll sign up again for the next year.

The problem lies in this need for speed. Most (not all) have little awareness of what is around them in the street. They are focused on clearing one driveway and moving on to the next as fast as possible. And this could have tragic consequences.

Two winters ago, I witnessed one of these cowboys smack right into the rear end of my neighbour’s car which was parked in the street. The operator simply wasn’t watching behind him. Luckily, no one was hurt – and the cowboy likely lost his job.

This winter I was pulling out of my driveway, took a good look both ways at the end, and pulled onto the street (a crescent that usually doesn’t see speeders), I look ahead and there is an orange speeding death bullet coming right at me, and not slowing down. He was doing about 50 klicks. I laid on the horn and the guy looks up from his phone just in time to hit the brakes. And he gives ME the finger.

So here’s a question. Aside from Highway Traffic Act provisions, does and municipality monitor or have bylaws that address the issue of snow clearing equipment safety? I doubt it because it would be very difficult to enforce, but I am curious.

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