Did You Know?
Help make your community a walkable winter wonderland
We want to ensure that our communities are places anyone can easily walk. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic when it seems that more people have taken up walking.
When the snow flies, that means we need to shovel those sidewalks!
It’s the right thing to do and in some places — including Chicago — it’s the law.
The Chicago City Council updated its snow removal ordinance in 2015, clarifying the shoveling required and increasing penalties for those who don’t comply.
The new ordinance makes it crystal clear that property owners are required by law to remove snow 7 days a week. For daytime snowfall, sidewalks must be cleared by 10 p.m., and for nighttime snowfall, it must be removed by 10 a.m. at the latest.
To increase compliance, fines for not following the ordinance are anywhere from $50 to $500 for repeat offenders.
GOOD SHOVELERS ARE GOOD NEIGHBORS
Clear sidewalks are important for everyone, but they are especially important for seniors, children, and people with disabilities.
Uncleared sidewalks force people to travel in the street, which is often a dangerous enterprise. Lack of shoveled sidewalks can prevent people from walking at all.
When people can’t walk easily to a destination, they might opt for making an unnecessary car trip or, in some cases, residents may be prevented from making a needed trip to the doctor’s office or the grocery store.
HELP YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Outside of Chicago, many communities require building managers and landlords to keep the sidewalk clear. Some towns and cities already have laws on the books; some don’t.
Then there are suburbs like Forest Park, Wilmette, Winnetka, and Glencoe that clear all public sidewalks for residents. Check to see what your local laws are.
We also ask that you remind your neighbors about the importance of shoveling, or you can thank them when they’ve done a good job.
The Chicago Department of Transportation produces printable door hangers in English and Spanish that can be used all winter long.
If you live in Chicago and see a snowy sidewalk or an unplowed bike lane, you can report it to 311, Chicago’s city services hotline. You can also make an online complaint.
Residents who are unable to shovel — such as seniors and people with disabilities — can contact My Block, My Hood, My City to ask for assistance. If you’re able to help, the organization also connects volunteers with people who need help with shoveling.
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