Berliners need to learn how to shovel their sidewalks

There's been snow on the ground in Berlin for weeks. Since Christmas I think. In other words, there has been plenty of time to get out there and clean the sidewalks. Oh, if only. Berliners obviously don't believe in clearing the sidewalks. Maybe 5% have been cleared by now. The rest just look like this:

The Berlin snow doesn't even pack down. Somehow it stays frothy, like a granita, and walking in it feels like walking through sand on the beach.

What explains this aversion to doing the obvious thing and clearing the sidewalk? I wish I knew. I think there may be a city-wide case of not-my-problem: the renters don't feel it's their responsibility, the landlords are elsewhere, the businesses figure if they clear their sidewalk snow will just be tracked over from the next business's unshoveled sidewalk, etc. I think that since this is a society accustomed to letting the government provide for them, everyone assumes the city will clear the sidewalk. (Note to all Berliners: If you think that, clearly you haven't looked out the window for the last three weeks.) Maybe they like it this way. As I explained in a previous post, every Berliner has a small child, and every one of those children has a wooden sled, and if there is snow on all the sidewalks, the parents can tug their extremely well-dressed and excessively cute children everywhere. Sleds are also useful for getting your groceries home, I've noticed.

Or are my expectations too high? Americans think in terms of conquering the frontier. Snow is something to be tamed. Maybe Berliners think snow is a coequal, a piece of their environment that they simply live with.

I'll say this for Warsaw. They push the snow into mountains lining the sidewalks. Yes, you have to climb the mountains, but there are relatively clear paths in every direction. Berlin, you could learn a thing or two.


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