Preparedness

I live in Seattle in the US.  Every time it snows in the city (which isn’t often), there is a huge outcry over the city’s lack of preparedness for snow.  Actually, it is understandable that 1) the city isn’t prepared for significant amounts of snow since it doesn’t happen often and 2) people who aren’t used to snow in the city get upset if the roads and sidewalks aren’t immediately cleared.

Lithuania, however, is a different matter.  It snows here — often and in abundance.  Not surprisingly, the cities and their residents are prepared for snow.  For example, these yellow bins of sand/salt mix are placed all over the city center in Kaunas and Vilnius.  When it snows, city workers lay the sand/salt mixture on the sidewalks — and they seem to cover the city pretty quickly after the snow falls.  Major roads are plowed and even smaller roads are sanded.

Yet, despite this apparent preparedness, I am surprised at what is not done in Kaunas and Vilnius — namely, the sidewalks are not actually cleared of ice, not even along major pedestrian streets and sidewalks in the center.  In fact, if it warms up a bit after a snowfall and then freezes again, the sidewalks can be covered in dangerous sheets of ice.  And a dusting of sand/salt doesn’t make them less dangerous.  I met a couple visiting from Sweden and they also expressed surprise that ice was left on the sidewalks, so it’s not just a northern European thing.

I seem to remember that sidewalks were cleared of ice more regularly in the past, so maybe the economic crisis and city budget cuts mean there is less staff to keep sidewalks clear.  Here’s my idea, let’s combat the unemployment problem by hiring people to clear ice of the sidewalks.  In any case, Lithuanians seem to make do and I, of course, wear my ice trekkers.  We all just go about our daily business, snow or not.  And the next time I’m in a Seattle snow that lasts few days or so — well, I won’t complain so much.

About amanda

Creating academic and public environments for the humanities to flourish Researching Soviet and Eastern European history Engaging people and ideas as a writer and interviewer Traveling as much as possible View all posts by amanda

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