Quality of life issues: Snow and Ice, Streets, Bikes

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Return to home. Quality. Walkable/Complete Streets Community. Quality of Life Hot Topics. Accessibility Hot Topics. Hot Topics and Community Issues home.

OWL has passed on the word that working its way through the legislature is HB43, which mandates that motor vehicles shall stop for pedestrians who have entered a crosswalk. You can find out about it at the Active Transportation Alliance.



and http://www.ChicagoShovels.org

Read the Snow Season Codes below, and some phones. CDOT and navigable streets.

Public Report prepared by Joan Staples of reports to the January 9, 2010 Older Women's League Hyde Park by her, Marcia Trawinski, and Gary Ossewaarde. As in Hyde Park Herald Jan. 20, 2010, letter titled "On Snow and Snow Removal."

Hyde Park OWL (Older Women's League) presented the following report to its members on January 9. We wish to share it with the larger community!

Our Accessibility and Transportation Committee has been concerned with three areas that impact not only seniors, but everyone in this community: Bicycle Safety, Transportation, and Snow and Ice.

During 2009, 15 special events were held on bicycle safety targeting University of Chicago students, faculty, and staff. The Active Transportation Alliance and the Bicycling Ambassadors promoted helmut use, following the rules of the road, signaling, proper lights, etc. We are considering having a community-wide event in the spring, that would include all Hyde Park bicycle riders.

We have been keeping track of the CTA/University buses (171 and 172) as well as the pending changes in the CTA buses and schedules. We plan to talk with Rodney Morris of the University about the buses available to non-University community members. We believe that increasing the buses available to the whole community would improve access to business and recreation opportunities for all.

Research on the pertinent ordinances and who does what re clearing of snow and ice has disclosed the following information:
Businesses and residents are required to clear the sidewalks adjoining their property or the property they lease. This must be done within 3 hours of the snow fall or accumulation. Littering is also forbidden! It is also unlawful for anyone to shovel or throw upon the public way any ice or snow that impedes vehicular or pedestrian traffic. We have copies of the specific codes, and would be glad to give them to anyone who contacts us.

We have spoken to the 4th and 5th Ward Offices and the Streets and Sanitation personnel in the 5th Ward. We have also talked with the Grounds Supervisor at the University. We have discovered that intersections (including curb cuts) are supposed to be cleared by the property owners adjacent to them. This is also true of parking lots. Alleys are not cleared because the snow removal equipment cannot get into them, and they tend to push snow against the garages. We were urged to contact home or business owners adjacent to alleys, to encourage them to clear the alleys. Bus stops are supposed to be cleared by the city. The University prioritizes the sidewalks they clear, taking into consideration which walks are used the most by University-connected people.

The hospitals clear their own premises.

There are sidewalks whose owners are not known: where there are no buildings, or near the Metra Stations. The Department of Records in the city can confirm ownership.

The City Department of Transportation and the Active Transportation Alliance have developed door hangers to urge compliance with the law and giving thanks to those who obey the law. We can use those. In addition, we are urged to call the appropriate Ward Offices and 311 if we note trouble spots. There is now a system through 311 to record complaints re snow and ice.

The city is establishing a Snow Removal Task Force, which had its first meeting on January 7. We do not yet know about the results of this meeting, but Hyde Park OWL plans a follow-up session on Saturday, February 6, from 1-3 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church. Someone from the city will be with us at that time.

The Chamber of Commerce is planning to recognize businesses that comply with the law.

There was much discussion about how to organize snow shovelers, especially for those who cannot do this by themselves. We hope to work on this need in the future.

We would be glad to share names and phone numbers of people to call or who have important information about this issue. Please call Joan Staples at 773-288-8196.

We welcome the input of other individuals and organizations so that we can translate our frustration into action.
We are having a respite from the extreme cold and precipitation right now, but we are sure to have more snow and ice before the end of the winter! Please join us in our efforts.

Sincerely, Joan Staples

Additional: Organize not only task-sharing but machine-sharing. Block Clubs
A serious issue is that with each snow the streets get narrower and it gets harder to get in and out of cars and busses and to park.
A serious gripe is the curves of 55th St. around University Apartments.
And in general the curb cut dips being not sufficiently cleared or refilled.

It can be improved-- dog droppings were.
Call the wards as well as 311 about problem areas.

Report from Committee April 2010 in OWL Newsletter- By Joan Staples

Accessibility and Transportation Committee
The Accessibility and Transportation Committee of Hyde Park OWL is continuing its work on Snow and Ice, Bicycle Safety, and Transportation. Its current members
are Joan Staples, chair, Susan Alittto, Gary Ossewaarde, and Marcia Trawinski. Judith Hochberg and others have participated from time to time.

Our research into who handles snow and ice removal in our area and how this is done, revealed Chicago ordinances requiring removal by residential and business
properties. Contact was made with the Ward offices and the University of Chicago personnel involved, as well as City of Chicago staff. Hyde Park OWL had two
programs on our findings: January (previously reported on) and February. On February 6, Kiersten Grove and Jerad Weiner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, Pedestrian Program, Division of Project Development, spoke to us, describing their and the city's work to increase pedestrian safety and to tackle concerns about snow and ice removal. One of the concerns that people have is finding help to shovel snow and ice. The Ward offices can help seniors (and others?) who are disabled, etc. or find it hard to shovel themselves. However, Ellie Hall contacted the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, and found that teens and adults who go there were interested in doing snow shoveling. I believe the contact there was Abby Hymen.
In any event, next winter we will follow through on this. It is also possible that other community organizations (in Woodlawn and Grand Crossing) and other aldermen, i.e., the 20th Ward's Willie Cochran, could also help.

In addition to already existing programs to educate the public, review policies, enforce those policies, and engineer streets and sidewalks to conform to policies, we
were told about the first meeting (January 7) of a new Snow Removal Task Force, that will review existing ordinances and policies and make recommendations for
improvement. Kiersten's office is particularly aware of safety for Seniors, and reviewed some of the programs already in existence and contemplated to educate both Seniors and the public about street safety. In addition, others in the City departments are conducting enforcement and educational programs to improve
vehicular safety at intersections and crossings that impacts us all. Our Committee plans to keep in touch with Kiersten and Jerad, and hopes that Hyde Park OWL
can host a meeting (with co-sponsors) for seniors in Hyde Park/Kenwood in the future.

We are planning to follow through on concerns about bicycle safety with Rebekah Broussard, who works on these issues. We will let you know soon about this. We
are thinking of having an event or series of events on bicycle safety with the Bicycling Ambassadors sometime in the fall. These events would target community riders as well as students (who were involved in events that happened last summer and fall).

Finally, Gary and I met with Rodney Morris, now the head of Transportation and parking for the University. We are urging this Department to increase opportunities for community members, who are not part of the University, to ride buses partially sponsored by the University, especially at night. Maybe community residents could register and contribute to these evening b uses or University-only buses. As new developments
occur, such as Harper Court and the Village Shopping Center, there will need to be transportation improvements for everyone, not just University staff and students.

Our last Committee meeting was on March 9. We will continue to communicate our work and findings to the chapter. Join us! Marcia is on several City of Chicago
Committees, and has knowledge of the constructive work being done on many of our issues. Many of these committees welcome observers. Let us know if you are
interested. Reported by Joan Staples


So what are the snow season codes of the City of Chicago?

4-4-310 Public Ways-Maintenance-Litering prohibited
It shall be unlawful for any person licensed to engaged in any business or occupation on premises abutting a public way, or for any person using any part of a public way for or in connection with is business or occupation, to litter or to permit the accumulation of andy paper, rubbish or refuse upon that portion of the public way abutting said premises or on and about that portion of the public way so used. Is shall also be the duty of the licensee to remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of his premises.

10-8-180 Snow and Ice Removal
Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or any other person having charge of
any building or lot of ground in the city abutting upon any public way or public place shall remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of such building or lot of ground.

If the sidewalk is of greater width than five feet, it shall not be necessary for such person to remove snow and ice from the same for a space wider than five feet.

Incase the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, the person having charge of any building or lot of ground as aforesaid shall, within the time specified, cause the sidewalk abetting on the said premises to be strewn with ashes, sand, sawdust, or some similar suitable material, and shall as soon thereafter as the weather shall permit, thoroughly clean said sidewalk.

The snow which falls or accumulates during the day (excepting Sundays) before four p.m. shall be removed within three hours after the same has fallen or accumulated. The snow which falls or accumulates on Sunday or after four p.m. and during the night on other days shall be removed before ten a.m.

10-28-030 Unlawful to place ice or snow on public way
It shall be unlawful for any person to shovel or throw upon the public way any amount of ice or snow which is obstructive to the moving or parking of vehicular traffic or which impedes the normal routing of pedestrian traffic. Any person found in violation of this section shall be fined not less that $25.00 nor more tha $100.00 for each offense, and each day of such offense shall continue shall constitute a distinct and separate offense.


4th Ward 773 536-8103, Streets and San Nathaniel McGowan 312 747-0860. ncmcgowan@cityofchicago.org

5th Ward 773 324-5555, Point Rosalind Moore; Streets and San Gloria Pittman 312 747-7900

Particular spots- 311 and get a code. (Always go to 311, no matter where else you go.)

CDOT (Chicago Dept. of Transportation) and navigable streets

From Power Point at February 6 OWL meeting by Kiersten Grove (kierstengrove@cityofchicago.org) and Gerald Weiner of CDOT.

CDOT outreach includes Education/Encouragement, Policy Initiatives, Enforcement, Evaluation, Engineering.

Education and Encouragement:

Policy Initiatives




From the February 6, 2010 OWL meeting:

Safe routes is a key to "people walk more with fewer accidents." This is partly design, timely repair, all modes and residents knowing and acting according to best practices-- and in all concentrating on accident hotspots.

Safe streets for Chicago-- including a pedestrian plan that is in process that will provide guidelines for new new projects that take the "complete streets" approach.

The new Snow Task Force: CDOT, Streets and Sanitation, Department of Law Compliance, General Services, Mayor's Task Force for Persons with Disabilities, Dept. of Community Development; Family and Support Services.
Knowing the challenges is the first step.
A key project is filling out the codes and their enforcement regarding vacant lots and curb cuts, including who is responsible and whom to give citations-- a new city ordinance was passed mandating such identification, tracking and enforcement. (There are lots of ways to hide ownership.) Being clarified is what the steps are when the owner either can't to the work or can't have knowledge of conditions.

What about teams or day labor? It was noted that the 4th Ward has hired people to tend snow-impacted needs and hot spots, and there are teams and arrangements from the Gary Comer Center in Grand Crossing. In some places these networks are called "Neighbors Now."

Boston's and other cities snow best practices codes are being looked at for adoption in Chicago and various ADA legal research is being consulted.

At transportation junctures, lots of the land is not owned by CTA, Metra or railroads but by General Services or Community Development, and there is the Decaux responsibility at shelters. Inventory is under way. The University is not sure who is responsible at stops adn curb cuts for its buses.

Even landscaping and fences come into the picture. The landscape ordinance is to be reviewed for needing an upkeep and design component re snow and ice and unobstructed right of way.

A major problem is that owners often don't know or have incentive to pay attention to detail and finish the job, esp. curb cuts and intersections just off their property line.

A 30-second ad will be on TV re snow and ice removal. A brochure is being prepared. There are the door hangers. Awards are under consideration.

Learn more at the IDOT site in the state website- hit the Safety tab. There find statistics on accidents including involving pedestrians and bikes and what are the problem streets and places. It includes the "places and conditions" of accidents, although it is a matter of requiring inclusion of such in reports and training both enforcement and medical personnel to enter them.

What about bike lanes? A stripe is safer than a divider, which has to be broken up for curb cuts and sometimes make it harder to see bikes coming. Bike lanes can be a two-for by narrowing the traffic lanes and therefore slowing traffic. ("calmer")

OWL was invited to have Ambassadors out to do more events or have a community session re cyclists not following laws and best safety practices.

A bill in the legislature HB43 seeks to require autos to stop at any intersection entered by a pedestrian.

Speed and traffic. Sometimes design measure to slow or rationalize traffic backfire and lead to people shortcutting or openly breaking laws. Design adjustments to just one spot often have ripple effects, so local and broader conditions must be taken into account. One suggestion was "seniors crossing" signs. Another was the often infamous speed humps. (Any of these can encourage rear-ending.)

Visibility often matters.

It is critical to start a paper trail with 311.

Watch for pedestrian ordinance hearings in summer 2010.

University of Chicago snow team. Getting shovels is a problem. If you see an unattended problem area, call Phil Underwood, punderwood@uchicago.edu.