Denver – Most cities in Colorado require their residents to clear snow from their walking trails within a day of a snowfall, but as many Denver7 viewers have noticed and reported to us, this doesn’t always happen, Especially in late December after our last big winter storm.
While some notices and citations have been issued, some of our neighbors have decided to join in and pick up the pieces.
Bryan Wilson has been one of those neighbors for about a decade.
“It started for me in 2013. I was commuting from Centennial to Commerce City for a teaching job,” Wilson said. “I’d just see the mess where students from other areas had to come out and have trouble getting in. Then fast forward a year or two and I’d see people in my neighborhood stuck in the snow in wheelchairs.”
As Wilson puts it, seeing his neighbors slogging their way through the snow “kindled a fire in him” to clear public sidewalks that were often neglected.
Facing the most recent winter storm, Wilson started his day at 4:30 a.m. clearing sidewalks and bike paths near Teller Elementary School and along Colfax.
“I just want people to get from point A to point B safely like I did,” Wilson said. “I can do it, but there are a lot of people who can’t, who are basically stuck in their houses and apartments until [the snow] was indeed cleared.
Like many cities, Denver has an ordinance requiring property owners to shovel snow within 24 hours of the end of the snowfall. If they don’t, they can get written notice from the city inspector. If their trails are not cleared within 24 hours of giving written notice, they face a $150 fine.
However, actual fines issued are rare. Between Dec. 23, 2022, and Jan. 17, 2023, city inspectors issued 2,065 notices, according to the city. Of these, only 45 received a fine after 24 hours.
“Our focus is on education, and we’ve found it to be very effective,” said Laura Swartz, communications director for the City of Denver’s Department of Community Planning and Development. “Most people clear the pavement when they’re notified by an inspector and we don’t need a fine in those cases.”
Wilson certainly wasn’t issued a citation or fine as a civilian volunteer, trudging through the snow with a bicycle and shovel before sunrise. He’s not making money, and he doesn’t want to—the thanks he gets from complete strangers are enough.
“Sometimes they’ll tell me, you know, ‘I’m going to slip here a lot,’ or, ‘I have to walk down the street.'” That alone is enough to make me want to go to the next one,” Wilson said. And then it happens all day long. So, I just keep going until I’m too tired to go on. “
If you want to help clear roads after snow falls in Denver, the city of Denver has a volunteer program called Snow Angels that helps residents who are physically unable to shovel snow. You can learn more here.