Want to adopt a sidewalk? It’ll take some muscle and a snow shovel
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org February 10, 2012 4:58PM
Torrey Loggins shovels snow from the skating ring at the Midway Plaisance as Chicago last month. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: March 12, 2012 8:05AM
Chicago homeowners and businesses are required by law to shovel the sidewalks in front of their property, even though the city seldom cracks the whip.
Now, City Hall is using technology to try to keep those sidewalks clear.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has created a new web app that will allow neighbors to “adopt-a-sidewalk” to shovel near their home by “claiming” it on an interactive map.
That will allow anyone with a smart phone to see which sidewalks either have or are about to be shoveled and which sidewalks are still snow-packed and in need of shoveling. App users will even have the option to connect with their neighbors to help keep sidewalks clear and share shovels and snow blowers.
The “Adopt-a-sidewalk” app can be accessed through www.ChicagoShovels.org, the website the city created to let Chicagoans to track the progress of the city’s snow removal operations.
It also includes a “snow corps” feature that connects volunteers with seniors, people with disabilities and others in need of snow removal help.
Last fall, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) suggested using a Blackberry technology known as “mobile electronic ticketing” to ticket Chicagoans who neglect to shovel their snow-covered sidewalks, even after two warnings.
“The complaint we have when we go to community meetings is, ‘Who owns that property? We’re trying to walk down the street and everybody seems to be doing a good job except one or two property owners.’ A ticket here or there [and], all the sudden, the snow will be removed on a timely basis,” Tunney said then.
Emanuel ignored Tunney’s plea and no ticketing blitz has been conducted during this unusually mild and relatively snowless winter.
Instead, Emanuel is applying technology to snow removal, which has been inter-twined with Chicago politics since the blizzard of `79 buried then-Mayor Michael Bilandic.
“Winter preparedness and looking out for one another is everyone’s responsibility. With the `Adopt-a-Sidewalk’ initiative, we are leveraging new technologies to bring neighbors together like never before,” the mayor said in a news release.
Emanuel noted that “neighbors, businesses and organizations” helped each other get through the Blizzard of 2011 that shut down Lake Shore Drive.
“The spirit of good will we saw last year is something we want to continue to spread. Chicago is the city of big shoulders, so I am confident that it can lift some big shovels,” he said.