Keeping sidewalks clean
In a centuries-old tradition called ‘Kehrwoche’, residents of the state of Baden-Württemberg take turns to sweep and mop the shared hallways, stairways and landings in their apartment buildings on a weekly basis. The same applies to the sidewalk outside your property, which must be swept at least once a week, ideally just before a Sunday or public holiday.
Not everyone is familiar with the rules for cleaning sidewalks, so here we offer answers to some of the more frequently-asked questions. For a more detailed explanation, you may wish to refer to the municipal bylaw covering the cleaning of sidewalks, which also includes rules for clearing and gritting them when it is snowy or icy.
What needs to be cleaned?
Residents are responsible for keeping clean all paths, sidewalks, roads and staircases in front of, behind, and along the sides of their property. This includes both foot and cycle paths, and other small open spaces. On streets without a sidewalk, residents are responsible for a two-meter-wide strip along the side of the road, measured from the edge of their property.
These areas should be swept prior to a Sunday or public holiday. However, in case of heavier soiling, more frequent cleaning may of course be necessary.
Who is responsible?
Responsibility for cleaning these areas lies with the residents, or owners, of the adjacent property.
However, in some particularly heavily frequented streets and pedestrian zones, this responsibility has reverted to the city’s Office of Waste Management and Municipal Cleansing.
How clean does it need to be?
Sidewalks etc. essentially need to be kept free from waste, dirt, weeds, and dead leaves. The actual level of cleanliness should be determined according to the needs of the pedestrians using the sidewalk, and general common sense.
Incidentally, what you sweep off your sidewalk goes in your residual waste bin (Restmülltonne) – never your biowaste bin. Nor should you put it in a public trash can or shovel it into the gutter by the side of the road.
You are also – unfortunately – responsible for clearing away any dog mess deposited outside your house. Not the most pleasant job. Again, this goes in your own residual waste bin (Restmülltonne).
What about when it is snowy or icy?
The municipal snow-clearing team are on hand in cold weather, ready to keep roads, squares, bridges and cycle paths safe for all. However, keeping sidewalks and footpaths free from snow and ice is again the responsibility of the local residents.
That means an early start. Sidewalks must be cleared and gritted by 7 am on weekdays and 8 am on Sundays and public holidays. You must ensure that they stay clear until 9 pm – so you should have someone ready to cover for you in case it snows while you are out.