Snowy and Unshoveled Sidewalks in NYC (2015)

Brooklyn Property Owners are Consistently Last to Shovel their Sidewalks

As a New Yorker, snow immediately sparks thoughts of a natural disaster. Time to stock up on canned foods and candles in case I have to spend the next few days buried in my apartment. To say that New Yorkers hate snow isn’t much of a stretch; it only takes one misstep to fall on your rump. According to the CDC, unintentional falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury, with nearly 9 million people hospitalized per year as documented in their most recent report. Certainly many of us who fall don’t head to the hospital, who even has time?

Luckily for the pedestrians of New York, the city has our backs (and butts) in this. Laws are enforced by the city to ensure that property owners keep walkways safe. The law states: Residents, property owners and business owners are responsible for keeping the public areas surrounding their buildings safe after a winter storm. It is absolutely necessary to:

  • Clean the snow and ice from their sidewalks, ensuring there is a 48” wide path
  • Keep hydrants clear of snow and ice
  • Not push snow and ice into the gutter, street, crosswalk or pedestrian ramp
  • Use snow-melting materials, such as sand or salt, if snow or ice has hardened

This must be done within the following time frames:

  • If snowfall ends between 7am and 4:59pm: Sidewalks must be clear within 4 hours
  • If snowfall ends between 5pm and 8:59pm: Sidewalks must be clear within 14 hours
  • If snowfall ends between 9pm and 6:59am: Sidewalks must be clear by 11am

Some would argue that clearing sidewalks is more about human decency than obeying laws, but, quite often, these requirements are not met. If you encounter a dangerous, unkempt sidewalk, you can file a complaint, assuming the sidewalk has remained snowy or icy past the reasonable grace period. Complaints are investigated to the capacity of the Department and violators may be subject to a summons from the Department of Sanitation.

These complaints are the primary source of data for the interactive map below:

Interactive Map of New York’s Snow Complaints

Neighborhoods were ranked based on the density of complaints in order to fairly compare neighborhoods of greater area and more sidewalks, to smaller neighborhoods. Data was split based on winter seasons rather than calendar year. Only 311 complaints pertaining to snow/ice on sidewalks were used. It should be noted that, according to the ‘NYC Ice or Snow on Sidewalks Report’ site, complaints are not accepted while snow is still falling. This means that the data we are looking at is not a representation of people that are simply upset that it is snowing.

Now for the reason you came here, to get the quick and dirty on where in the city you’ll really have to watch your step this winter:

Prospect Heights takes the crown in our adjusted ranking, but East Village is a close second. The Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn is a top 3 on both lists, tallying up the highest number of complaints of any area by a strong margin.

To get a better picture of what’s going on, we took a look at each borough to find out where they stand against each other. It became immediately clear that Brooklyn is the top generator of complaints, even when adjusted for its massive size. This year the margin between Brooklyn and Manhattan is less than in year’s past, but the winter is just getting started (last year’s “snowpocalypse” hit, albeit softly, on January 27th).

We dug through data going back to the winter of 2013-2014 to get a better understanding of any patterns that might exist. Sure enough, Brooklyn consistently tops the list of slothful shovelers. Queens comes in a close second in raw quantity of complaints, but considering it has a land mass greater than Brooklyn and Manhattan combined, we don’t think Queens should take too much heat.

An interesting and recurring appearance on the lowest complaint list is Stuyvesant Town. For those that don’t know, Stuyvesant Town is post World War 2 development that has switched hands a few times over the years. The buildings of Stuy-Town / Peter Cooper Village comprise an entire neighborhood just south of Midtown East. Although it’s hard to know for sure, it seems the place is receiving diligent care. In good time too, after the many years of controversy, we hope the new owners can keep the streak going.

RentHop still has a few apartments available in Stuyvesant Town if you’re looking for a fresh place with easy living. They move quick though, and rents here have been trending upwards faster than elsewhere.

*Omissions from the best-ranked lists include the public parks and cemeteries of all boroughs, as well as Riker’s Island, as we’ve assumed the island’s residents are choosing to spend their phone time very selectively. They also may just be satisfied with the timeliness of snow removal on Riker’s Island, as there haven’t been any complaints over the years.

If you’re in the market for a new apartment, or were just influenced to move out of your current neighborhood because of this study, be sure to check out the extensive selection of nyc apartments for rent.

RentHop, it’s like apartment hunting…but smarter.

Resources Used:

“Subset of 311 Service Requests from 2010 to Present”, NYCOpenData,Pulled on January 28, 2016,

“Snow or Ice on Sidewalks Report”, NYC-Resources,

“National Estimates of the 10 Leading Causes of Nonfatal Injuries … 2013”,,

“Monthly & Annual Snowfall at Central Park”,,

“$5.45 Billion Deal for Stuyvesant Town Completed After Threatened Lawsuit”, NYTimes,

“Bytes of the BIG APPLE”, NYC Department of City Planning,Shapefiles and Neighborhood boundaries provided by the city,

You May Also Like