Wheelchair Winter Blues

Greetings Milwaukee!

It’s that time of year again.  The birds are returning, joggers are jogging, there is daylight past noon.  With the end of March comes the cautious hope of Milwaukeeans that winter is finally over.  We can once again emerge from our hibernation chambers and become reacquainted with the city and people around us.

For those of us using wheelchairs, the coming spring brings yet another long awaited promise…the ability to actually be able to use sidewalks and cross the street.  With the rising temperatures comes the coveted thaw that slowly dissolves the snow and sheets of ice which collect on many of our city sidewalks, making them easy to traverse once again.

As has been previously reported, even when the streets and sidewalks are clear, often times snow and ice are piled up in gargantuan mounds that happen to cover or block the curb cuts we rely on in order to cross the street.  This can force us to either engage in some risky off-roading, prolonged searching for pathways that are clear, or even just not being able to get places.  I had the opportunity to share this experience with a local radio program recently, having a reporter shadow me on my snowbound trek to a nearby bus stop as I made my way to work.

As an aside, this week the common council unanimously approved legislation to create a reserve workforce of retired plow drivers to supplement existing snow removal capacity at DPW.  Mr. Milwaukee hopes that this will also result in increased clearing of curb cuts as well as streets, as there is clearly room for improvement.

But all of that is for next winter!  Our city is coming to life, plants are starting to bloom, and summer is just around the corner!  Oh, who am I kidding?  We’re probably going to have another blizzard in April.