Snow in Chicago? Let's #PlowTheSidewalks


February 3, 2022 | by Jerome Palliser

Access Living friends and allies,

11 inches of snow yesterday, with more possible today! That means it’s the perfect time to have a conversation about removing snow and ice from sidewalks! Access Living has been partnering with Better Streets Chicago to start conversations about whether the City of Chicago should take on more responsibility for sidewalk snow and ice removal.

Laura Saltzman

Senior Policy Analyst – Transportation

Right now, the City of Chicago requires that snow must be shoveled as soon as possible after it falls. Snow that falls between 7 am and 7 pm must be shoveled by 10 pm. Snow that falls between 7 pm and 7 am needs to be shoveled by 10 am. The City can issue citations for failure to shovel, with fines ranging between $50 and $500. People can report failure to remove snow to 311; check out this City website for more info.

But if you can’t shovel snow or break ice, what do you do? Or what if folks on your block can’t or won’t shovel? That’s the big question for thousands of seniors and people with disabilities in Chicago, who are basically locked in when sidewalks are covered with snow or ice. Folks may be physically unable to shovel; others cannot manage traversing snow or ice. This places these residents at risk of being cited when they may not have help, or funds to secure help for snow removal.

It’s time to reconsider how Chicago deals with snow removal. Over the weekend, the #PlowTheSidewalks campaign gained public traction with a great article from Block Club Chicago featuring Better Streets Chicago and Access Living staff. WGN also picked up the story, along with a radio interview with WBEZ. Now, Chicagoans are having a discussion about who should really be moving snow and ice on sidewalks, and how to make that happen. While advocates have been pushing for a citywide program, the first step is to see whether pilot programs can tell us if this will work.

Why report to 311 if you need snow or ice removal in Chicago? While you can file a report or a request, it usually means that you will not see removal right away. But it does build a public record of problem areas, and build a case for a pilot snow removal program in your area. Plus, you can also record a complaint with Access Living using this form in English or this form in Spanish which will help drive our advocacy. So please, file those reports!

What else do you need to know about cold weather in Chicago? Access Living has put together a list of resources at this page to help you out.

Please share this update with Chicago area folks who need snow and ice removal! Thank you for your advocacy.