Spokane woman feels trapped in her home because of icy sidewalks - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane woman feels trapped in her home because of icy sidewalks

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

For those in wheelchairs or have difficulty getting around, the snow doesn't make it easier. They say it's because not all sidewalks get shoveled.

“I just try not to go out until I can make sure the sidewalks are clear,” April Belnap says.

She has spina bifida, which makes it so she can’t walk. She uses a power wheelchair to get around, but every winter, she says she deals with the same problem, especially when there’s ice coating the sidewalk.

“My chair slips and slides and it can cause it to go off the sidewalks, slide into snow banks. It's very difficult,” she says.

The city of Spokane is taking steps to help. Heather Trautman, director of neighborhood services and code enforcement for the city of Spokane, says their main goal is to educate and encourage people to do it on their own. If they get a call about someone’s sidewalk not getting shoveled, Trautman says they’ll send an informational postcard telling the homeowner what they need to do to be in compliance. If they get another call saying that same address is in violation, they’ll issue a notice of violation and give the homeowner time to come into compliance. If the problem persists, “it may result in the city having to use enforcement as a mechanism to help our community to be able to get through on a sidewalk and have safe travel on the sidewalk,” Trautman says.

That would be a $115 fine. Based on the code, the city says you should clear sidewalks by 9 a.m., clear a path at least 36” wide (up to the width of the sidewalk), and clear snow from around curb ramps, fire hydrants, storm drains, and mail boxes.

April says the easiest solution would really to do the neighborly thing and help out those who need to get around.

“Make sure the sidewalks are clear enough for wheelchairs and walkers and strollers,” Belnap says.

If you are elderly, disabled, or need extra help to clear your sidewalks, the city says you can call 311 for information on different resources that can help. If you’re traveling, they suggest making a plan and asking your neighbors or friends for help.

There is Community Living Connections, a helpline for Spokane’s aging and disabled population. You can call 509-960-7281 or visit spokanehelpline.org.

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