No more dibs on parking spots?

December 9, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Kevin Lynch, creative director of digital marketing agency Proximity Chicago, has always found the winter tradition to be a direct contradiction of Chicago's reputation of being a friendly city. So, Lynch is launching something called "Chair-free Chicago."

The snow is not yet deep, but a cone saves a South Side parking spot. Nearby, a chair is all set to go for another Chicago snowfall.

Whether it is a box, bar stool, crate or your favorite 70's style chair, Chicagoans use whatever it takes to claim dibs on their shoveled-out parking spot.

"If someone spends all their time digging out a spot, do not park in that space," Mayor Daley said ten years ago.

The mayor has changed his tune on the issue. However, many residents in his old neighborhood have not.

"That is a tradition here, ya know, if you've been in Chicago any length of time, we've done it ever since can remember," said Bob Edwards.

"We don't do the whole cone thing. Both of my neighbors do, and my neighbors across the street do, and the lady down the block does," said James Aridachhi.

"Actual Chicagoans who don't have garages, who have to park on the street and dig themselves out. This is a common custom here," said Maureen Sullivan.

It is a tradition Lynch wants to change.

"Just because it is a tradition doesn't make it right. It's hard to fathom why a neighbor you may have had a beer with at a block party during the summer, you're all of a sudden going to say, 'hey, that spot in front of your house is mine,'" said Lynch. "To be part of Chair-free Chicago you go to, either order or download signs that help declare your street, your neighborhood a chair-free zone."

While there are some signs hanging on the North Side, Bridgeport residents doubt you will seem them on the South Side.

"Put a sign up there, the guy down the street will come and cut it. He will cut the string and it will be in the snow. That will be the end of it," said Edwards, dismissing the idea.

ABC 7 already found a few signs torn down on the North Side.

Lynch says if the city just enforced its own laws, Chair-free Chicago would not be necessary.

The Streets and Sanitation Department says it does not advocate the dibs tradition. However, it tolerates the winter custom until crews can clear 9,500 miles of city streets.

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