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Snow Removal FAQ (Courtesy of Bethlehem Police Department)

Chairs and other items cannot be used to save parking spaces on city or borough streets, snow must be cleared from sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall, snow must be cleared from around fire hydrants, and snow cannot be thrown onto streets as part of one’s snow removal effort.

Est. Read Time: 4 mins

Note: The following snow removal FAQ (frequently asked questions) was posted Monday by Bethlehem Police Chief Mark A. DiLuzio on his department’s blog.

Although some of it is specific to the city of Bethlehem, most of the information is valid for residents of other densely-populated communities–such as Hellertown–where people are still digging out from the Great Blizzard of 2016. For example, chairs and other items cannot be used to save parking spaces on borough streets, snow must be cleared from sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall, snow must be cleared from around fire hydrants, and snow cannot be thrown onto Hellertown streets as part of one’s snow removal effort. For more information about snow removal in Hellertown, visit the borough website’s Snow Removal page. As of 3 p.m. Monday a snow emergency remains in effect in the borough of Hellertown.

Over the past weekend, the City of Bethlehem received approximately 31 inches of snow. This storm was a record-breaking storm. When shoveling snow, please remember to take your time. If you don’t feel good, stop, go inside and rest. If you are having any health issues, dial 911. Over the next week or so, snow removal activities in the city will be conducted. Some streets will be closed temporarily while work is being done. Please pay attention to temporary No Parking signs that will go up in the areas of the city that are being targeted. Please check the City of Bethlehem website and please cooperate so we can all get through this. Every year, our 911 Center handles hundreds of calls about parking, shoveling out parking spaces on city streets and other issues. The following is some information that may answer some of those questions.

QUESTION – If I shovel out a parking space on a street in front of my house, do I own that space?

ANSWER – We all want to believe that, but legally this is not true. Parking spaces on a public street are public property and anyone can park there. If you spent two to three hours shoveling out a parking space, hopefully your fellow neighbors will respect that. You cannot legislate courtesy.

QUESTION – Can I place a lawn chair, box, milk crate, cabinet, statue, my spouse, in the parking space I just shoveled out?

ANSWER – We all want to do this to stop others from parking there, but this is not legal either. If the space you shoveled out is on a public street, you cannot obstruct anyone from parking there. You may also lose the item you placed out on the street to save the space. You may also anger your spouse.

QUESTION – Can I throw snow in the plowed street while shoveling out my vehicle?

ANSWER – No, you cannot. This is against city ordinance and law. You cannot throw snow onto the street to get rid of it. In doing so, you create a dangerous situation and you may be opening yourself up for being sued by someone who gets hurt because of the snow you threw in the street.

QUESTION – Do I have to shovel my sidewalk?

ANSWER – Yes, you do. Your sidewalk must be cleared of snow 24 hours after the official stop of the snowfall.

A snow-covered fire hydrant

Snow should be shoveled from around fire hydrants to a radius of at least three feet. If your fire hydrant remains buried by snow, in Hellertown you could be subject to a fine. If you need help with removing snow from around the fire hydrant next to your house, talk to your neighbors first. Several people working together can usually clear an area around the hydrant much more quickly.

QUESTION – I have a fire hydrant in front of my house. Should I clean the snow from it?

ANSWER – That would be extremely helpful. We have hundreds of hydrants in the city. If you have one in front of your house, and you can get to it and clean the snow out around it, we would be extremely grateful. If you have a storm drain in front of your house and know where it is, that would be helpful too because one day all this snow is going to melt. If you have exterior vents on your house that vent your furnace or stove, remember to clean the snow away from them also.

QUESTION – Can the police drive me to work, to the grocery store, to the liquor store, to my mother’s house, etc.?

ANSWER – No, the police cannot do this. We cannot take you to Giant or any other store for milk, bread and eggs. If you have a medical situation and cannot get out, then that situation will be handled accordingly by emergency services. Police agencies do not normally give people rides unless there are special circumstances. Most of the rides we provide for are people going to county lockup. When driving, please drive carefully and take extra time to get to where you want to go. Exercise patience. Remember, spring is only 55 day away and Musikfest 2016 is only 195 days away.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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