shoveling chicago

It’s Going to Snow, Chicago. Let’s All Be Adults About Shoveling Our Shared Spaces


You can’t have missed the news that Friday is predicted to be the FIRST SNOW OF WINTER.  So watch out Chicago, the craziness is about to begin.  Dibs wars, unplowed streets, icy sidewalks and shoveling back ache.  It’s all around the corner.  But, really, Fellow Chicagoans, it happens every year.  So we may as well get on board.  Let’s try to remember our community spirit as we sally forth into winter.

Shovel the Sidewalk, Please

Very few people claim to love clearing the sidewalk of snow but it is a big part of promoting strong communities.  Remember at Halloween when we called out Trick-or-Treating as a means of making strong neighborhoods?  Walking around neighborhoods makes them safer.

As it happens, it’s a lot easier to walk around when you don’t have to wade through inches of snow and over sheets of ice.  Even if you are only walking to your car, having a cleared sidewalk is an advantage.  For your transit-using neighbors, local school kids or elderly neighborhood shoppers it is the difference between efficiency and agony.

The City (maybe) Really Means It This Year

Technically the City of Chicago has always required home and business owners to shovel their sidewalks but the enforcement of same is spotty-to-nonexistent.  That may all be about to change however.   A new ordinance allows the city to assess up to a $500 fine for not shoveling your area.

You now must get shoveling done by 10 p.m. if snow falls during the day, and by 10 a.m. if snow falls overnight.

If you can’t get the job done for health reasons there is an alternative.  You can call the city’s “Snow Corps” and get them to help you out with that snow clearing burden.  For the rest of us … think of it as saving on a gym membership.

And, While We’re At It, Don’t Be a Jerk about Dibs

Yes.  We understand that shoveling is hard and and shoveling out a plowed-in car is even harder.  However the street does remain a public space.

It may be almost Thanksgiving … but lets not emulate the pilgrims.  Showing up, seeing a spot and claiming it as yours doesn’t obviate the ownership of the people who were there before you … or the public street.

In addition to being selfish, its logistically foolish.  Odds are if you tend to park on the street overnight and then commute to another part of the city, there are other people who live else where commuting into your neighborhood during the day.  A dibs chair prevents someone else from simply parking in that spot from 9 to 5 (and keeping the snow out of it) then leaving the area again just when you come back home.  What’s the point?!?

Anyway, here is our official appeal not to let Winter take away our community spirit and collective humanity.  It’s going to SNOW!  That can be a good thing as long as we all hang onto our winter manners!