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City of Big Shovels

Those who know me know I'm a radical pedestrian and obsessed in particular with sidewalk snow removal (that's pedestrian as in feet, not everyday ;-). I sit on the Mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council and the Board of Directors of the Active Transportation Alliance. With winters like we have in Chicago, snow removal on sidewalks is absolutely critical for year round walking especially for the elderly, people with disabilities, children, and those reliant on public transporation. Senior's call it Hip Replacement Season and those with diabilites are often homebound when the snow falls.

There are laws on the books requiring landowners to shovel, but its rarely enforced. As a result, after a snow the City is usually a patchwork of clean sidewaks and and neglected ones. I've tirelessly spoken out on the issue with policy makers but there is feet dragging since they're worried that it'd be unpopular to crack down. So, while announcements of snow rules parking gets top billing every winter, there's hardly a pep about the basic requirmeent to shovel.

What I dream of, what think would be awesome, is a sidewalk snow removal equivilant of the legendary "Don't Mess With Texas" campaign-- http://dontmesswithtexas.org/. I want to appeal to Chicagoan's sense of pride about our shoveling prowess. Yes it snows here. Thats why we live here. We love to shovel! We've very good at it. We' are The City of Big Shovels (apologies to Carl Sandburg). The idea is to launch a campaign called City of BIg Shovels that 1) reminds media about the law 2) encourages residents to shovel 3) Celebrates those who have big shovels by posting images of Chicago's burly shovelers 4) Shames our scofflaws by posting images of neglected sidewalks and businesses. I'd reward those who submit images by sending the a City of Big Shovels button for thier winter coat and a sticker for their big shovel.

Funded by Chicago, IL (October 2011)