GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It was January, 3, when Beth DeGrote encountered trouble while trying to ride the Rapid bus at a stop in Kent County.
“The bus was coming,” said DeGrote. “I was coming out to catch the bus and this sidewalk was full of snow.”
She said the snow stretched out before her like a white barricade.
“This path right here was not clear at all,” she said.
DeGrote said the small sidewalk that extended to the bus door wasn`t clear.
So, she said she climbed on top of it so the bus could see her and she could get on.
However, while she was waiting, she slipped into 44th Street.
“The snow gave way and I fell,” said DeGrote.
Meanwhile, she said a truck was coming just down the road.
Thankfully, she says a police officer who was just across the street darted over in front of her in his car and put on his lights to make sure that truck did not hit her.
“He saw and he turned his lights on,” said DeGrote. “If it wasn`t for the police officer, I would have been six feet under.”
DeGrote was whisked away by ambulance, spending a few days in the hospital.
Other riders say it’s dangerous as well.
One man who was about to get on the bus showed us more drifts at a stop near Eastern and 44th in Grand Rapids.
“It`s been like this since it started snowing,” he said, pointing out that you couldn’t sit down on the benches because they were covered in snow.
“Nobody can sit on it. How can they sit on it?,” he said.
“I`ve been writing to the CEO of the Rapid for 14 years and I`ve been getting the runaround on who is in charge of this sidewalks and the bus stops,” said DeGrote.
FOX 17 News contacted The Rapid to look for answers.
Spokesperson Jennifer Kalczuk sent us a statement:
“Like sidewalk maintenance and clearing fire hydrants, we rely on property owners to clear bus stops. We do work with the County to clear shelters but are dependent on their schedules. We train bus operators and encourage passengers to use the nearest available accessible location, usually a driveway, to safely board and deboard the bus.”
— Jennifer Kalczuk
Although the stop where DeGrote fell is on Grand Rapids property, the city of Kentwood says they have stops nearby and are taking a proactive approach to see which property owners may still have to clear the sidewalks.
“Code enforcement is going to take an assessment of all the bus stops as of today,” said John Gorney, Kentwood Operations and Utilities Manager.
An employee with the Grand Rapids Street Department where the stop was located said an official would get back to us for more comment on whether Grand Rapids could help to keep bus stop areas clean.
That person did not get back as of the newscast Tuesday evening.
DeGrote is now working to get people to sign a petition, asking for better clearing of the stops.
“I know exactly what you`re talking about I was afraid to get on the bus not too long ago because the snow was so high,” said Cindy Marsh, Rapid rider.
“It`s like I`m trying everything to help us people who have handicaps,” said DeGrote. “I`m just fed up, and then the incident when I fell, that`s what really put the cherry on the Sundae.”
DeGrote says when she collects enough signatures, she`s going to present that petition to the board of directors at the Rapid for help.