Rules vary on keeping sidewalks cleared for walkers

WASHINGTON — The D.C. region has had its fair share of snow and ice this winter, enough to raise questions about who is responsible for keeping sidewalks clear so that walkers stay safe.

Icy or snowy sidewalks can be a hazard, especially to senior citizens and the disabled.

Regulations about clearing walkways in front of private property vary in the area.

In D.C., the law is that homeowners and landlords are supposed to clear snow and ice within eight hours following a snow or ice storm. The city even asks property owners to clear any adjacent curb ramps or bus shelters.

It’s a different matter as to whether such regulations could survive a court test. D.C. courts have not held any property owner liable for failing to keep the front of their premises free of snow and ice.

In Fairfax County, Va., residents and businesses are not legally obligated to clear public walkways but are asked to keep walkers safe.

Arlington County, Va. has an ordinance that requires property owners to remove snow and ice from adjacent walkways within 24 hours after a storm. And Arlington is pretty particular how it’s to be done. The law states that snow and ice must be removed from the “entire width of the sidewalk,” up to 3 feet wide.

Property owners and occupants in Alexandria, Va. are responsible for removing snow and ice from sidewalks and entrances to their properties.

City code in Alexandria says sidewalks, driveways and entrances must be cleared of snow and ice by the property owner, occupant or business operator.

Montgomery County, Md. residential property owners are required to clear snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property.

In Prince George’s County, Md., homeowners, renters and business operators are responsible for removing snow and ice from the sidewalks abutting their properties.

Anne Arundel County, Md. property owners also are responsible for clearing sidewalks abutting their property.

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