DENVER — Most Colorado cities require their residents to clear snow from their driveways within a day of snowfall, but as many Denver7 viewers have noticed and reported to us, that doesn’t always happen, especially after our last big winter storm. at the end of December.
While some notices and invitations are being issued, a few of our neighbors decided to jump in and pick up the slack.
Bryan Wilson has been one of those neighbors for ten years.
“It started for me in 2013. At the time, I was commuting from Centennial to Commerce City for my teaching job,” Wilson said. “I would just see this mess where students from other districts would have to stand out and it would be difficult to access. Then I would fast forward maybe a year or two, I would see people stuck in the snow in their wheelchairs in my neighborhood.”
As Wilson says, watching his neighbors struggle through the snow “lit a fire” in him to shovel the often-neglected public walkways.
With our last big winter storm, Wilson started his day at 4:30 a.m. to clear sidewalks and bike lanes near Teller Elementary School and along Colfax.
“I just want people to get from point A to point B safely, like I can,” Wilson said. “I can manage, but there are a lot of people who can’t and are mostly trapped in their houses and apartments until [the snow] gets approval.”
The city of Denver, like many other cities, has an ordinance that requires property owners to shovel their driveways within 24 hours of the snowfall stopping. If they don’t, they can get a written warning from city inspectors. If they are still not approved for walkways 24 hours after being notified in writing, they can face a $150 fine.
However, the penalties that are actually issued are rare. From December 23, 2022 to January 17, 2023, city inspectors issued 2,065 warnings, according to the City. Of those, only 45 received a fine 24 hours later.
“Our focus is on education and we think it’s very effective,” said Laura Swartz, director of communications for planning and community development for the city of Denver. “Most people clean their pavements after receiving a notice from the inspector and in those cases we don’t have to issue a ticket.”
Wilson, as a civilian volunteer, is certainly not issuing tickets or fines as he trudges through the snow with his bicycle and shovel before sunrise. He doesn’t make money and doesn’t want to – the thanks he gets from complete strangers is enough pay.
“Sometimes they’ll tell me, you know, ‘I’m going to slip here a lot’ or ‘I have to walk down the street.’ And that alone is enough to make me want to go to the next one,” Wilson said. “And then it just keeps happening all day. And so, until I’m too tired to go on, I’ll just keep going.”
If you want to help clear the trails in Denver after a snowfall, the city of Denver has a volunteer program called Snow Angels that helps residents who are physically unable to shovel. You can find out more about it here.