Set aside any discussion of climate change for a moment. It’s winter. It’s Chicago. It snows. As a homeowner, you owe it to your friends, family, neighbors and delivery people to keep the sidewalks free of snow and ice. Photo credit: Pooria Koleyni on Flickr
In truth, it’s not just neighborly to shovel—it’s the law. Municipal Code of Chicago (4-4-310 and 10-8-180), to be exact. So, before you claim dibs on your parking spot, make sure you’re doing your share of snow removal on the side walk.

Here’s the lowdown on snow removal in Chicago:
  • You must shovel as soon as possible after snow falls—seven days a week. There is no “weekend” exception
    • Snow that falls between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm must be cleared by 10:00 pm 
    • Snow that falls between 7:00 pm and 7:00 am must be cleared by 10:00 am
  • You must clear at least a five-foot wide path on all sidewalks adjacent to your property, including any crosswalk ramps
  • Don’t pile your snow into the right-of-way, bus stop, parking spaces, bike lanes or Divvy stations
What if you don’t shovel? 
Failure to abide is punishable by fines, ranging from $50 to $500 per day on a case-by-case basis, as determined by City Administrative Hearings judges. Business fines can go up to $1,000/day.

Here’s why you really should shovel
Law aside, we’re a walking city—clearing the walkway is the nice thing to do. When you shovel, you make a path for kids getting to school, pet owners walking pets, people with disabilities, seniors and those with mobility challenges. And don’t forget about your USPS, UPS, Fed-Ex and Amazon deliverers—be sure to clear the path to your front door and mail box.

What if you (or a neighbor) can’t shovel? 
• Call 311 to request shoveling service
• Request service (select “Ice and snow” from the service type list).
• If not in Chicago, visit the website of your city, village or town

What if your neighbor doesn’t shovel?
• Call 311
• Submit the location at Uncleared Sidewalk

There’s nothing like a big snowfall to bring the city together. Some say winters are the only reason they don’t live here. I say it’s one of the best reasons; without Chicago winters, everyone would live here.

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Learn more:
City of Chicago Snow Ordinance
City of Chicago Sidewalk Snow Removal