Shovel This -- Adopt-A-Sidewalk?

Shovel This -- Adopt-A-Sidewalk?
Chicago "Dibbs" Protector

Winter is a great time of year in Chicago for showing off your used chairs, tables and assorted garage-sale reject items, especially when there is fresh snow on the ground.

Unique to Chicago is this  "dibbs" system of snow parking.

New to Chicago's winter lexicon is "Adopt-A-Sidewalk", proudly announced by the city geek that plays on Facebook all day.  Here you get to call "dibbs" on scraping the ice and snow off of the crumbling sidewalk in front of your house -- and maybe a feeble neighbor's house as well.

The "dibbs" system of snow parking takes place after you spend hours shoveling the rare spot in front of your congested block, where as soon as you are finished breaking your back or your snow blower removing the piled snow around your car, you take the old kitchen chairs you promised your mother-in-law you would cherish and plant them solidly in your newly cleared spot. Sometimes you might put a few planks or an old ladder between the two.  A stuffed chair works as well.

It's protection, a guard against the schmo that will zip into your home spot the minute you leave to go to work.

Moving the furniture means death to the perp.  It is about the only time you don't want somebody to do the heavy lifting for you.

The city of Chicago does not want you moving your rejected resale items out to the curb, but it does want you to put your excess energy into shoving your walk and possibly the entire block.

The city of Chicago has attorneys to enforce its anti-dibbs parking system, but do you have an attorney on retainer when that same schmo who heaved your furniture onto the parkway, slips and falls on your adopted sidewalk down the block?








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  • This post would be funnier if you were actually liable for people slipping on your shoveled walk. But you're not. And that is neither rare nor unique.


  • In reply to dforgue:

    You can be held liable for someone slipping and falling on your shoveled walk if some smart ass lawyer says you wilfully and wantonly created a hazard. And the only thing they have to do is assert that in a complaint. Think that people don't get hustled in this way? Think again and read the state law on this.

  • In reply to MichelleRegan:

    My law firm of ShovelScheist, Excrement & Pissor are checking on this right now, and I will forward to Mayor Rahm.

  • In reply to MichelleRegan:

    Sadly, it takes more than lawyers (smart-assed or otherwise) "saying" things to make them so. Sigh.

    You are free to be as unreasonably paranoid as you want about this. The fact is that you are VERY unlikely to be sued and even LESS likely to be found liable, assuming that you make a good faith effort to clear the snow and ice.

  • In reply to dforgue:

    Thank you for permission to be "paranoid" and the determination of any degree of likeness regarding litigation. I will still refer all complaints, comments and alleged good faith efforts to my above mentioned firm.

    Sigh and Scheesh.

  • That may be so, dforgue, but we are not talking about the walk we own, but rather taking public via the --Adopt web site--responsibility for another person's walk.

    And just because you aren't responsible does not mean someone will not threaten legal action. Whether it would make it to court is another thing.

    Keep it informal and it is different. Make it public and I think that can cause problems.

    And why does the city employ a guy who plays on Facebook all day?

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    I will sue you.

    There, I threatened legal action. Does it deter you from doing anything? Right. Not one iota. I think your fears are overblown.

  • In reply to dforgue:

    dforgue, can I appeal for calm here? Sometimes replies are "overblown".

    PS, I'll add you to the list that is suing me for something or other. Will you take Paypal payment for settlement?

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    I will only take Paypal if you agree to smash the violin at issue.

  • In reply to dforgue:

    Smashing Violins is one of my favorite bands. And they do take Paypal.

  • Oh, and it is not the Adopt-A-Sidewalk that is the unique or rare thing here -- it is the parking thing.

    Oh, scheesh and sigh.

  • Dibs is not a uniquely Chicago practice. It's done in Boston and Pittsburgh too.

  • Aquinas... Thanks for the dibbs info. Probably the was copied by those "lower tier" cities. LOL. That's my blog story and I'm stickin' with it.

  • Sorry but as a CTA rider, this would never fly as much as some of us would love for it to. I am the type that if I had a snow blower i would walk up and down my block because some people are just ignorant to the neighborhood's needs, but then again do they really have to make it convenient for us to walk past their buildings? I am guessing probably not, just like they are not responsible for the alley and yet the city seems to take no care to them till we have a blizzard. I am also a firm believer, though i do not drive a car, that if someone shovels out a spot and spent countless hours doing so they should have the right to save that spot for themselves to return to. Why do all the work to let someone else take it and never move their car then you are parked 3 blocks down or farther. JMHO

  • In reply to Brandi Wall:

    Actually it is the law that they do have to make it convenient (or at least clear the snow) to let you pass.

  • The people that STOLED my snowblower can adopt a whole block

  • In reply to jimevan:

    jimevan...I don't think the thieves are the adopting type. But you've got the word out now.

  • It’s been a pleasure reading this story. It’s hard to find great articles to read today so it’s nice to find good content to read. Thank you!
    Webmaster of Waste King 8000

  • In reply to mschwartz:

    Thanks mschwartz.

    I think the Pulitzer Prize is speeding my way. Not the real one, but the one from Henry B. Pulitzer of the West Loop. Hope there is prize money.

  • I would no more adopt a sidewalk to shovel than I would adopt an illegal immigrant and pay for his/her children to go to school in Illinois!

  • In reply to lilsuzq32:

    Maybe we can tie the illegal immigrant and the sidewalk adoption thing together. Shovel enough walks and you can earn the right to stay in the country legally?

  • Technically, you do own the sidewalk as it is on your property, the sidewalk is part of the easement taken by the city. You are still responsible for maintaining it, although no one wants to do this because they are afraid that they can be sued if they shovel and someone slips.

    And you can be sued! Any time you alter property in any way that creates a hazard that causes harm, you can be sued. The trick would be for the plaintiff to prove that you intended to cause harm. This is not as difficult as it seems for some sharky lawyer who wants to make a few bucks. They usually don't go after private homeowners because they don't have deep pockets. But businesses have been sued because of similar scenarios.

  • Sorry - here is the state law of Illinois regarding snow removals of sidewalks. As I stated in the earlier post, a restaurant owner here was sued because they had an icy path leading up to their door. It was not a big lawsuit but they paid out to a plaintiff and settled out of court. Here is the state law just for clarification:

    According to Illinois' Snow and Ice Removal Act, it is public policy that owners are "encouraged" to clean the sidewalks abutting their buildings. It also is stated to be "undesirable" for any person to be found liable for damages due to his or her efforts in the removal of ice from sidewalks. The only way an owner can be found liable is if their snow clearing was found "willful or wanton," equating to serious negligence or intended purpose in causing an injury.

    Note that is says it is "undesirable" for someone to be found liable, but not that they are not liable. Any good lawyer would be able to assert "wilful and wanton" conduct on behalf of the defendant in such a suit. And the result would be that the insurance company defending the homeowner would have to hire a lawyer to defend a claim or just pay off the plaintiff (which they usually do).


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