How to Clear Sidewalks

Properly cleared sidewalk

How to be sure you are in compliance with the City's Snow and Ice Removal Ordinance:

  • Shovel your sidewalk on all sides of your property, down to bare pavement
  • Make the path wide enough for someone using wheelchair, walker or stroller (at least 3 feet, preferably 4 feet).  Clear snow to curb to avoid placing trash and recycling containers behind snow banks.  
  • Clear snow to curb so that collection crews can access your trash barrels and recycling toters and they are not behind snow banks.
  • Clear ramps at corners and crosswalks.
  • Stock up on ice melter before a storm. Use ice melter with calcium chloride (CaCl2), which is the best choice for the environment and only a small amount is required to melt ice. Potassium chloride (KCl) is okay, too. Avoid rock salt (NaCl or sodium chloride), which kills plants and trees.
  • Do not use sand. It doesn’t help pedestrians; but it makes hard ice more slippery. It gets into street drains and is expensive to clean up in the spring.
  • Remember that, for people on foot, ice can be worse then snow. It can cause dangerous falls. You are as responsible for ice as you are for snow.
  • Keep street drains clear of snow (to avoid ponding/ icing at the bottom of ramps)
  • Consider helping neighbors who may have difficulty clearing their walk. Remember: pedestrians need safe, clear sidewalks all year long, so be mindful of anything—hedges, trees, parked cars— that obstructs their path of travel.  Keeping sidewalks passable is the neighborly thing to do, and it’s the law.

If you have a disability and/or are elderly and qualify as a low-income resident, you may be eligible for an exemption. Call the Cambridge Council on Aging, 617.349.6220 (voice) or 617.349.6050 (TTY) to learn more. You can report the address of unshoveled or icy sidewalks using our online reporting form or by calling the snow hotline at 617.349.4903. We all have a shared responsibility for keeping our community safe and accessible during winter weather. For you, your neighbors, people with strollers or using wheelchairs, and the many people in Cambridge who walk, please do your part.

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Dept of Public Works

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Cambridge MA 02139


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