Winter is Coming


Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The familiar scene of unkept sidewalks in the wintertime.

Temperatures are dropping and pumpkins are everywhere. Turkeys are piling up in freezer sections at a grocery store. This can only mean one thing to a girl like me — snow! I have had a love/hate relationship with snow since I was a young girl in knee high socks and plaid skirt in that private grammar school so long ago. Cold, wet, snowflake kisses, warm drinks and plenty of indoor activity. Could life get any better?

Alas, the snow greets me on my windows in the bright morning sun — plop! That was the sound of me falling or slipping or tripping in that horrible wet, cold white-ish grey stuff outside! I am among many other things, clumsy. The best of weather conditions trip me up for a great deal of the calendar year. I am also a pedestrian. A CTA riding, down the city street walking, summer-time biking kind of pedestrian. Snow is my friend and my enemy. So when I heard two weeks ago that the city was possibly raising fines for those homeowners and business owners alike who do not shovel their sidewalks promptly or at all, I got a little giddy.

On Oct. 28, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council of Chicago made my day. While these ordinances technically do not go into effect until November 7 of this year, I was very excited at the news nonetheless. The city council members passed a proposal to change city ordinances 4-4-310, 10-8-180, 10-8-190 and a few others pertaining to removal of snow from sidewalks and liability. These changes are really just minor changes in wording for the most part.

They clarify who is supposed to maintain the sidewalks, ramps and crosswalks, how much of them should be cleared, how quickly they should be cleared, and who is at fault if they are not maintained. In my opinion, the biggest contribution that was made to these ordinances is a clearly defined consequence for those failing to do so.

The clear definition of who will be fined and how much is a vast improvement to these set of ordinances which previously seemed more like suggestions to a lazy home or business owner. According to documents made publicly available on the Office of the City Clerk’s website the new ordinances state, “Any person who violates this section shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $500 for each offense and each day such offense shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.”

This simple addition not only makes the fines up to $500 but $500 per day of un-shoveled snow. Music to my ears and knees and butt. And any other body part that I don’t injure from snow related slippage this winter.

Some would argue that there are citizens among us who do not possess the ability to go out and shovel snow. Well, dear readers, our mayor has thought of it all. Enter the Snow Corps Volunteers, available for request by simply dialing 311 from any phone in the city of Chicago.

A network of willing and able volunteers who, with their own equipment, clear snow for those who cannot. No tipping, no entering participant’s homes and no shoveling driveways are the main rules for this group of non-city employees. A bunch of average Joe’s from the sound of it, out to do good deeds for those who can not clear snow as well as those who can not stand up straight in it.

Although the city has not currently updated its handy-dandy printable flyer or door tag available at, I’m sure once these ordinances go into effect they will. I can’t wait to print a bunch of brand new picture-filled flyers to hand to those who can’t be bothered to shovel more than a six or seven inch path from their front door to the gaping hole where their nice warm car once was.

It’s getting colder outside and winter is coming. Holiday greeting and glad tidings be damned. I will proudly shout, “Shovel your snow-laden sidewalks, peasants! This pedestrian queen is conveying herself down the sidewalk with ease at last.”