SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 21, 2014

Our view: Cheers and jeers - winter edition

As we wait the arrival of spring, we offer a helping of comment on winter-themed news:

CHEERS to Salem for using a youthful “shovel brigade” to help clear downtown sidewalks after major snowstorms.

The shovelers, most of whom are in their teens or early 20s, are expected to focus their efforts on parts of the city that municipal workers can’t get to right away — say, sidewalks next to crosswalks or curb cuts and spots in front of city or public property.

The shovelers are paid $8 an hour by the city, and municipal workers are freed to spend time working in other areas.

Several local organizations, including the Northshore Workforce Investment Board, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem and the North Shore Community Development Coalition, are partnering with the city on the project.

“We are a pedestrian-friendly community in so many respects,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said. “With so many people living and working in downtown especially, we wanted to put extra effort into ensuring our city is accessible and walkable, even following a major snow event.”

JEERS to drivers who can’t be bothered to clear off their cars after major storms, leaving a trail of snow and chunks of ice behind them as they drive down the road. The problem is especially dangerous along routes 95 and 128, when an errant slab of snow hitting a windshield at high speed can have a disastrous effect.

In New Hampshire, so-called “peep-hole” driving can lead to fines of $250 to $500, with higher fines for subsequent offenses. While Massachusetts law doesn’t specifically target snow and ice removal, there is a section that prohibits anything on a vehicle that interferes with its proper operation. Snow and ice fit that bill.

We know it’s been a long winter, and nobody likes standing out in the cold to clean off their car. But it’s common sense — and common courtesy to the driver behind you.

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