Indianapolis News and HeadlinesWRTV Investigates


Sidewalk shoveling ordinance rarely enforced by city

Posted at 8:06 AM, Jan 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 10:50:33-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- The ordinance that requires Indianapolis residents and business owners to shovel the sidewalks in front of their building is rarely, if ever, enforced. 

Even if you don't get hit with a fine, city leaders say there is a lot more at stake than money.

Unshoveled sidewalks are dangerous because people will often walk on the roads instead. The mayor's office blames numerous incidents of cars hitting pedestrians as they try and walk down the street on people not shoveling their sidewalks. 

If snow stops falling after 7 p.m., you technically have until 9 a.m. the next morning to clear the sidewalk. If it stops after 9 a.m., you have until 7 p.m. that evening to shovel the snow. 

The city says it sends inspectors to look at complaints and educate residents or businesses. You could face a $50 fine if don't shovel your sidewalks, but it's unlikely since the city has actually never issued a citation. People will typically shovel their sidewalks after getting a visit from an inspector. 

According to, you should clear a 5-foot-wide path along the sidewalk, with enough room for a wheelchair or stroller to make it through. 

The city advises you move the snow to your yard and not into the street, an alley or covering a fire hydrant. 

Indianapolis offers the following tips for staying safe before shoveling the snow: 

  • CONSULT A DOCTOR: If you have a medical condition, don’t exercise on a regular basis or are middle aged or older, meet with your doctor before exercising in cold weather.
  • DRESS APPROPRIATELY: Light, layered, clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It’s important to keep your head warm and wear mittens or gloves and thick, warm socks. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles.
  • START EARLY: Try to clear snow early and often. Begin removing snow when it begins to cover the ground to avoid dealing with packed, heavy snow.
  • PACE YOURSELF: Snow removal is an aerobic activity. Take frequent breaks and prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, stop the activity and seek emergency care by calling 911.
  • PROPER EQUIPMENT: Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage. Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower. The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure acutely during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times, than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. When possible, simply push the snow.
  • PROPER LIFTING: Try to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Avoid bending at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once. Do it in pieces.
  • SAFE TECHNIQUE: Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.
  • AVOID EATING A HEAVY MEAL BEFORE SHOVELING: Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
  • KNOW THE HEART ATTACK SIGNS AND LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 911.
  • AVOID ALCOHOL BEFORE OR AFTER SHOVELING: Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold.
  • BEWARE OF HYPOTHERMIA: Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat because much of your body’s heat can be lost through your head.
  • LEARN CPR: Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Hands-only CPR makes it easier than ever to save a life. If an adult suddenly collapses, call 911 and begin pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest until help arrives.

MORE TOP STORIES |Couple mysteriously disappears after visiting family in Indy, car found abandoned in Madison Co. |Photos: The faces of 2017's homicide victims | Identities released of elderly couple, son found dead in Hamilton County home on Christmas Day | 9-year-old with pellet gun stops man from stealing pickup truck in Kokomo | In pictures posted to social media, young homicide victims showed off guns, cash

Top Trending Videos