Chicago Could Start Plowing Sidewalks Next Winter

Keeping sidewalks free of snow has historically been the task of adjacent property owners, forcing pedestrians and people with mobility challenges to navigate a patchwork of conditions. A new ordinance would place the responsibility on the city.

1 minute read

March 16, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Snow-covered Chicago sidewalk with piles of snow on either side and red brick homes on the right

A snow-covered sidewalk in Chicago, Illinois during a 2011 blizzard. | Piotr Kalinowski Photos / Snowy Chicago soidewalk

The responsibility for keeping Chicago sidewalks clear of snow and ice could shift from property owners to the city, if an ordinance proposed by Alderman Gilbert Villegas is successful in the city council. Kayleigh Padar describes the ordinance’s path to council in Block Club Chicago.

The ordinance is supported by more than 20 advocacy organizations including the AARP and disability rights groups. “Snow can make sidewalks dangerous for people with vision impairments who rely on walking sticks, for people who use wheelchairs or other mobility aides, for travelers with luggage and for parents wrestling strollers around snow, advocates said.”

Despite hefty fines for not clearing sidewalks, Ald. Villegas said that many sidewalks remain covered in snow, impeding mobility for the city’s pedestrians, particularly people with disabilities. Prior programs designed to help keep sidewalks clear failed, in part due to a lack of volunteers and resources. “The ordinance would prioritize providing services in systemically divested areas, particularly those with high population density and lots of vacant properties. Areas with lots of young families, older people and disabled people will also be prioritized during the pilot program, officials said.” Advocates say it’s important to view sidewalks as an integral part of a city’s transportation infrastructure, like roads, and ensure safe access to them year-round.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 in Block Club Chicago

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