City can fine residents, businesses who don't shovel walkways

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Getting around in the extreme cold can be treacherous. Slick sidewalks are a danger and pedestrians are risking injury.

It's really a patchwork out there - some sidewalks are clear, others are covered in snow. This is just one example where pedestrians have beaten a path, but it's not ideal.
If you think, well that's good enough, stop for just one moment and take a look at the Johnson's story.

With sidewalks covered in snow, the Johnsons - one in a scooter, the other using a cane - are forced to use the street.

"I can't see behind me, so I just hope I don't get hit by no car," said Christan Johnson, a disabled pedestrian.

Normally, when the sidewalks are this bad, the Johnsons would just stay indoors. But Mrs. Johnson has an important doctor's appointment.

"When I have to go somewhere, it's a mess. Might have to go someplace, as long as I don't have to go nowhere, it's okay," Christan Johnson said.

"For people in wheelchairs, sticks and crutches, I think they should be clean," said Samuel Johnson, disable pedestrian.

And that's exactly why the City of Chicago has an ordinance requiring everyone to keep sidewalks clear, generally with a 5-foot wide path, if possible. If not, individuals could be fined up to $50 dollars, and businesses up to $1,000. The city has sent text messages to citizens reminding them to shovel, and also has an informational video.

"If you clear the snow and you push it front and leave a big pile on the sidewalk for someone to step over, then that is going to be an issue and that may be deemed unreasonable and you could become liable for that," said Antonio Romanucci, personal injury lawyer.

If you look at the sidewalks still covered in snow, the risk is real.

"They're pretty slippery, hard to walk on right now," Lauren Williams, a concerned pedestrian.

"I was just getting off the bus, there was a really slippery patch of ice. I didn't see it and fell down," said Kristen Hara, a concerned pedestrian.

And that's why some shovelers are hard at work, making sure that doesn't happen on their walkway.

"I don't want to see anybody get injured. It's my responsibility to make sure the walks are clean and ice free. I just take pride in my work," said Richard Morales, STEM Magnet Academy employee.

If you know someone who hasn't cleared their walkway, you can let the city of Chicago know by calling 311.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.