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Blocked Sidewalks Unsafe For Wheelchair Users

January 17, 2011, 6:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

Blocked Sidewalks Unsafe For Wheelchair Users
SIOUX FALLS, SD - The snow and ice can be a headache, but imagine trying to get around in a wheelchair. One Sioux Falls man, who uses a motorized chair, says he's forced to put himself in a dangerous situation, because homeowners and businesses aren't keeping their sidewalks clean like they're suppose to.

It's a frightening scene that's being played out on Sioux Falls city streets. Cars passing dangerously close to a man in his wheelchair. 

"I've had a couple of them yell at me, get on the sidewalk, and I yell back, yeah, you better clean your sidewalk," William Koch said.

William Koch has been in a wheelchair for eight years and says every winter he and others who are wheelchair-bound are forced to wheel their way around town on busy city streets, because some sidewalks are snow-packed and ice-covered. 

"I found five of us who are driving on the streets, because we either can't get up on the sidewalk or the sidewalks aren't clean and are icy," Koch said.

The city has an ordinance, requiring homeowners and businesses to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice within within 48 hours after it stops snowing, but some haven't been following the law.

Koch has taken his complaints to the city on several occassions. 

"I've called them and it don't do no good, the bus people have called them, everybody has called them and it don't do no good," Koch said.

Koch tries to use the sidewalks when he can, but as you can see, it's a slow struggle. His message to everyone is loud and clear. 

"The sidewalks to be clean like the city ordinance says, side-to-side, end-to-end, down to the concrete," Koch said.

The city says it's taken hundreds of complaints So many in fact, it's having a tough time getting to all of them. If the property owners don't clear their sidewalks, the city gets a contractor to clear the property and will send them the bill, which can range from $40 to more than $200.

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