Meet Linda Mainquist, my new personal hero.

A resident of St. Paul, Minn., Mainquist was disturbed by the condition of the city’s sidewalks during the snowy season. She finally got mad enough to act when she saw a young woman rolling her wheelchair down the street because the sidewalk was impassible.

Inspired by her memories of her father shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk, Mainquist did something. “Something magical happens when you say, ‘I’m the one who should do it,'” says Mainquist in this video. So true.

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She called her local council member, who suggested she contact St. Paul Smart Trips, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable transportation — walking, biking, transit — in the city. They put together a door-hanger that clarifies the city’s rules about when sidewalks have to be cleared by businesses and property owners. Now Mainquist goes door to door asking people to shovel, and leaving the door-hangers when no one’s around.

Simply by deciding to do something, she has inspired the creation of a tool anyone can use to make the city safer for pedestrians, one block at a time. Because unlike her, “A lot of people are too shy to talk to their neighbors about shoveling their sidewalks.”

With more snow in the forecast for New York, I’m thinking of asking my local government to design something similar. Or maybe I’ll just do it myself.

Thanks to Twin Cities Streets for People for posting the video.

Get off your ass alert: Take a look at the St. Paul Smart Trips snow removal door hangers. Consider asking your local council member or advocacy organization to make one with your city’s guidelines. Or just fire up the computer and design your own.

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