Aldermen propose pilot program making city crews responsible for shoveling snow from sidewalks

Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Aldermen propose pilot program for city crews to shovel sidewalks
The Chicago City Council is considering an ordinance and pilot program to make city crews responsible for shoveling sidewalks to clear snow and ice.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Your days of shoveling sidewalks may end, if you live in Chicago.

The Chicago City Council considered a measure Wednesday making it the city's job to do the heavy lifting of clearing walkways.

There is no snow in the forecast for Chicago, but the issue of shoveling is top of mind and top of the agenda for several aldermen and mobility advocates who believe the city should clear snow- and ice- covered sidewalks at the taxpayer's expense.

"While this winter may have been relatively calm, we all know it's not a matter of if but when we'll have a snow storm that'll leave many of our residents stuck," said 36th Ward Alderman Gilbert Villegas.

Villegas introduced an ordinance at City Hall Wednesday directing the Department of Transportation and the Department of Streets and Sanitation to identify specific corridors to test a pilot program with about $750,000 set aside for the project.

Alderman Gilbert Villegas outlined a proposal for a pilot program that would have city crews shovel snow off of sidewalks.

The program will start in select highly populated, low income neighborhoods where a lot of children, seniors and people with disabilities live.

The initial effort to include the $750,000 "Plow the Sidewalks" plan in the city's 2023 budget failed.

"Sidewalks are the cornerstone of our transportation system. Whether you walk, roll, bike, drive or ride transit, you will use a sidewalk at some point in your journey," said Michael Podgers of Better Streets Chicago.

The idea has a more than a dozen co-sponsors, and has the support of groups and organizations advocating for improvements to the city's mobility apparatus.

"Snow and ice covered sidewalks are the number one complaint we get from our community in winter," said Laura Saltzman of Access Living. "For wheelchair users, people who are low vision or blind, and other folks with mobility issues, having consistent clear sidewalks is not just a luxury but a necessity."

Property owners can be fined for not shoveling their sidewalks. Supporters of the proposal say that legal obligation is often ignored and rarely enforced, meaning hundreds of thousands of people with mobility and vision challenges have to stay inside for fear of falling.