Seneethia Coffey had to make a choice before starting her two-hour journey to the doctor’s office Tuesday morning.
She could walk on unshoveled sidewalks or take her chances in the street, waiting for the bus to come.
If she had a car, there would be weather reports, accident reports and traffic updates to help make her trip safe. She might have heard a city executive talking about how plows had been working all night to clear the roads.
As a bus rider, she would have been lucky to have even part of her path to the bus stop shoveled.
With knee and back issues, traveling across town is a pain in any circumstance. It got worse after one of her four falls in the snow this winter, when she broke her foot. The protective boot came off just this week.
Experience has taught her how to make that street vs. sidewalk choice.
“It hurts more when you have to truck in the snow; that’s why I walk in the street and take a chance of getting hit,” she said during a trip along West Market Street on Metro RTA’s No. 1 bus.
Sitting right behind her was James Barber, a computer science student at the University of Akron.
He said he has fallen five times this winter. Most times, only his dignity was injured. Other times, the fall hurt.
“Sometimes it’s full face because you have to walk with your hands in the pockets,” he said, trying to laugh at himself.
He also had to walk in the street to get on the bus. That brings the danger of being splashed by passing cars and spending the rest of the day sitting in classes with wet clothes.
It almost happened again Tuesday.
“I was at the bus stop today and I was shielding myself,” he said. “Luckily they put up a new garbage can and I ducked behind it.”
He said he has never seen a bus stop with the sidewalks cleared to include the area where riders step off. His best hope is to follow other walkers.
“They kind of tamp down the snow a bit to make it easier,” he said.
Barry Lee and his wife, Denise, were on their way to a doctor’s appointment.
He has fallen three times this year, he said.
“It kinda sucks in the wintertime when you have to catch the bus,” she said.
They have been riding the bus for more than a year and say they have started shoveling their own walks more since then. Denise Lee resists any temptation to ask her neighbors to shovel, too.
“I thought it was understood that you do have to shovel, but I don’t say anything,” she said.
Asia Mayfield wasn’t looking out only for herself Tuesday. She walked to the bus carrying Jamayne, 1, and holding the hand of her 6-year-old daughter, Javeyah.
Like the others, they skipped the sidewalk.
“I try to keep her on the inside, toward the curb, so she is not out in the street,” Mansfield said.
Despite the dangers and inconveniences, none of the riders was angry about the situation, but Barber said he had a message for those who don’t shovel.
“Please shovel,” he said. “It’s hard on people. It’s hard on a lot of people, and it’s so simple. ... I guess you say ‘simple’ and that’s relative to somebody’s situation, but just a little act of kindness could keep people from getting hurt.”
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or email@example.com. Follow Scott on Twitter at Davescottofakro.