Advocacy Alert: October 20, 2022


October 20, 2022 | by Jerome Palliser

Winter is Coming. Let’s #PlowTheSidewalks

Access Living friends and allies,

If you live in Chicago, we need your help! It’s time to fight for the Plow the Sidewalks campaign. With weather services predicting a particularly snowy winter season, now is the time for the City of Chicago to commit to plowing the sidewalks—much like it plows the streets. 

How to get started

We’re requesting a pilot sidewalk plowing program and we need support from the community on or before October 24. Here’s how you can help:

  • Make a virtual public comment
  • Testify in person
  • Submit a written comment

Notice the deadlines and read carefully!

Sign up to give a virtual public comment

Call (312) 744-6800 and leave a voicemail with your name and phone number. This call must be made anytime between 10:00am Thursday, October 20th and 9:00am Friday, October 21st.

If you are selected: The City will call people who were selected between 10am and 2pm on 10/21 and give them instructions to access the meeting on 10/24. If you miss the City’s call you automatically forfeit your slot!

On 10/24 at 9am, follow the instructions provided by the City to dial into the meeting using the same phone number you registered with. When it’s your turn to speak they will call on you.

Sign up for in-person public comment:

On the morning of 10/24, you can enter a lottery to give a public comment between 8am and 8:35am at City Hall (121 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago). At 8:35, spearkers are selected through random drawings. You MUST be present at the time of the drawing. If you’re selected, you’ll be brought to the chamber to wait until you’re called upon for your turn to speak.

Send written public comment

Email your written comment to by 9am on Friday, October 21.

What to say:

We think it’s important for the Chicago Department of Transportation and our City Council to learn how snow and ice covered sidewalks impact you and those around you. Does it mean you can’t go to the doctor, your job, or meet up with family and friends? Does it mean not being able to get to the bus or the train? Does it just makes traveling in the winter more scary? The City needs to hear why you need the sidewalks plowed. 

Some other key points you could bring up:

  • The current system of leaving sidewalk snow and ice removal up to the adjacent property owner doesn’t work. One block might be clear, but the next is covered in snow and ice. And while the city fines some who fail to clear their sidewalks, this is an inequitable policy because not everyone is able to do it or afford to pay someone. And at the end of the day – fines don’t shovel sidewalks.
  • Failing to clear sidewalks of snow and ice means the City fails its residents who rely on them to get around – often some of our most vulnerable neighbors. It traps people who use wheelchairs, walkers or canes. It impedes parents with strollers. It makes accessing public transit difficult to impossible. And it leaves everyone at risk of slipping and falling.
  • By embracing responsibility for clearing the sidewalks, the City can coordinate its existing plans for bike lanes and streets, ensuring that all residents can get around safely – regardless of their mobility needs or choices.
  • It is common practice elsewhere in the United States and Canada to make sidewalk snow clearance a municipal responsibility. Fortunately, that means the City of Chicago has examples to learn from, like Rochester NY, Minneapolis, and Syracuse. Toronto and Montreal – Canada’s two largest cities – both clear snow from sidewalks as a municipal service. Locally, both Forest Park and Wilmette clear the sidewalks.

Social media is also good! 

You can amplify the hashtags #PlowTheSidewalks and share about why clearing snow from sidewalks is important to you. If you live in Chicago, you can also email your alderperson using this advocacy link from Better Streets Chicago.

Please share this email with others passionate about #PlowTheSidewalks in Chicago!