Winter Hazards: Clear Sidewalks Make Good Neighbors

Winter Hazards: Clear Sidewalks Make Good Neighbors

Chicago winter weather since 2019 began has been frightful. As I write this, it’s five degrees out with a wind chill temperature of nine below. Good day to stay in and rant about folks who don’t bother to shovel their walks and the consequence of that illegal and unneighborly laziness.

The picture above was taken in the 1400 block of Lake Street in Evanston. Take the word of a senior who was forced to walk in a busy street for fear of falling. It’s a solid and pretty thick sheet of ice. That’s bad enough for folks like me, but there are a preschool and a public school nearby.

Because our weather the past couple of months has included rain and snow, alternating with periods of polar vortex deep freezes and thaws that created pools of water from melted snow, ice abounds. Most people make some attempt to clear their sidewalks, or hire people to do it, but there are enough who don’t do either, resulting in scenes like this:


To the person who didn’t bother to shovel: Have you ever thought about the parent carrying a baby on the way to bring a child to preschool who fell on your sidewalk? Or the three-year-old who slipped and hit her head? Or the child on the way to Dewey School forced to walk on your icy sidewalk, in the street, or cross in the middle of a busy street to get to school? Or the mail carrier or UPS delivery person who has to cross your ice field every day? I doubt you thought about much other than the inconvenience of your having to shovel the snow from your sidewalk.

I know folks have been calling 311 to complain about your sidewalk and perhaps you have been fined or ticketed for your inaction. But that has not even motivated you to put salt on your walk. It’s hard to imagine why you have so little regard for the safety of your neighbors, preschoolers, school kids, and adults who have to get past your dangerous sidewalk of ice.

And it’s not just you. The house next to you is a corner lot whose owners didn’t bother to shovel the portion of their property they don’t see or use, resulting in this:


Even if you are a climate change denier, the ice on your walk is a dangerous fact as well as your responsibility. Have some empathy for others who need to walk by your home on their way to school or to bring you your mail. Try some ice melt and, if it ever gets warm enough to defrost, please clear that walk. With apologies to Robert Frost, clear sidewalks make good neighbors.



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