A road safety advocacy group in Chicago has called on city officials to clear snow from sidewalks as well as streets in the winter months. Current city law requires property owners to clear snow from the sidewalks in front of their homes or businesses, but tickets are rarely issued to individuals who ignore the rules. According to Better Streets Chicago, this has created a situation where elderly and disabled city residents become trapped in their homes for days on end during winter storms.
Standard procedure in other cities
Many other cities in North America take the issue of snow-covered sidewalks more seriously than Chicago. Denver has purchased snow plows capable of clearing bicycle lanes and sidewalks as well as streets, and Rochester sends city workers out to clear sidewalks after snowstorms. In Evanston, the city hires contractors to clear sidewalks when property owners fail to shovel. Property owners are then sent an invoice. If they don’t’ pay the bill, officials place property liens on their homes or businesses.
Deadly pedestrian accidents are worryingly common in Chicago even during the summer months, which has prompted calls for infrastructure improvements to protect those who travel on foot. The Metropolitan Planning Council wants city leaders to lower speed limits and install bump-outs and speed bumps to slow down traffic. Such measures would be in line with the city’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate road deaths by 2026.
Pedestrian accident lawsuits
Experienced personal injury attorneys usually file lawsuits against negligent motorists or their auto insurance companies when pursuing civil remedies on behalf of pedestrian accident victims, but they may initiate litigation against property owners or city agencies when their clients suffered injuries because of poorly maintained or icy sidewalks. These lawsuits could seek damages to compensate injured pedestrians for their medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.