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Shoveling makes it easier for everyone to walk

Last year, I was about 8 months pregnant during the dead of winter.

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Don't let your sidewalk look like this. Photo courtesy of Anne Alt. 

Thankfully, I am only a two block walk away from my CTA train station. I was encouraged to buy extreme snow boots that had special soles that gripped the ice and snow better. They are monstrous and borderline embarrassing. I will probably have them for the next 20 years.

One day I walked by the big corner house at the end of my block. You know the one — it has the largest sidewalk surface area and for some reason the owner doesn’t shovel. I happened to see the owner walking into his house. I decided to have a chat.

The abbreviated/paraphrased conversation is below:

Me: Hey there! Are you the owner of this building?

Neighbor: Yes

Me: Awesome. I just wanted to introduce myself – I’m your neighbor, I live just down the street. My name’s Rebecca and as you can see I’m super pregnant right now. Anyways, I just wanted to ask that you do a better job of shoveling and salting this year because I really don’t want to fall in front of your house.

Neighbor: I always shovel.

(I look at the icy unshoveled sidewalk and then at his clean, salted steps).

Me: Well…I don’t know about that. I’ve walked by your house for over three years and it’s always a struggle if there's snow on the ground.

Neighbor: I use more salt than anyone.

Me: That’s fine. If you think you are doing a good job, then all I ask is that you continue to do a good job clearing your sidewalk. And every time it snows, please just think of me walking in front of your sidewalk super pregnant. Thanks so much!

His sidewalk has been the first one cleared and salted on the street ever since.

I have sent him a thank you note and the next time I see him, I plan on thanking him in person. 

When debating about the need to shovel, whether you rent or own, whether you think someone else should do it or not, just think about a super pregnant person walking (or waddling) in front of your building.

Think about that person on crutches or that senior who is nervous about falling. Think about how much nicer it is when you walk on a clear sidewalk versus an icy, snow-covered one. And be a good neighbor.

Active Trans offers some downloadable fliers that encourage good shoveling habits and congratulate people for keeping their sidewalks clear. 

If you live in Chicago and see a snow-covered sidewalk, you can report it to 311, Chicago's city services hotline.

Also, if you need someone to help you shoveling snow, the city of Chicago has a program that will match you with a volunteer.