Ask your alderperson to have Chicago #PlowTheSidewalks

"#PlowTheSidewalks | Access Living and Better Streets Chicago" over an image of a CTA bus at a bus stop, where the sidewalk is partly cleared but the stop is buried under mounds of snow.

As Chicagoans, we pride ourselves in being hardy during the winter months, carrying on no matter the weather. But the reality of how we clear snow in our city tells a different story: while the City has taken on the responsibility of clearing streets of snow and debris for drivers, it leaves clearing sidewalks of snow and ice up to adjacent property owners.

The job just doesn’t get done. One block might be clear, but the next covered in snow and ice. Mounds of snow get piled up at bus stops. Crosswalks get plowed in by the City – and City departments just point fingers.

Failure to clear sidewalks of snow and ice means the City fails its residents who rely on them to get around – often some of our most vulnerable neighbors. It traps people who use wheelchairs, walkers or canes. It impedes parents with strollers. It makes accessing public transit difficult to impossible. And it leaves everyone at risk of slipping and falling.

This is a problem of priorities and policy, not snowfall levels or funding. The City has found a way to clear roadways for car users, and it can find a way for pedestrian infrastructure too. And by embracing responsibility for clearing the sidewalks, the City can coordinate its existing plans for bike lanes and streets, ensuring that all residents – regardless of their mobility needs or choices – can get around safely.

We can do better. The City of Chicago must take on responsibility for clearing sidewalks of snow and ice to enable unfettered mobility for all.

In order to accomplish this, we’re asking alderpeople to:

  1. Support a citywide municipal sidewalk snow and ice removal program

  2. Vote yes on the pilot program ordinance introduced by Ald. Gilbert Villegas

It is common practice elsewhere in the United States and Canada to make sidewalk snow clearance a municipal responsibility. Fortunately, that means the City of Chicago has examples to learn from, like Rochester, NY, Minneapolis, and Syracuse. Toronto and Montreal – Canada’s two largest cities – both clear snow from sidewalks as a municipal service. Locally, both Forest Park and Wilmette clear the sidewalks.

It’s time for the City of Chicago to stop shirking its responsibility and begin clearing public sidewalks. Whether you walk, bike, take transit, or drive – clear sidewalks keep you moving safely.

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