LINCOLN SQUARE — Santa's not the only one keeping naughty and nice lists — pedestrians have them too, and it all boils down to who shovels and who doesn't.
Those navigating the city's sidewalks during the recent blast of snow and arctic air now have a way of rewarding businesses that have demonstrated stellar shoveling skills under pressure.
The Chicago Department of Transportation and the Mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council have teamed up to create the Winter Wonder program, which aims to increase awareness of and compliance with the city's sidewalk snow removal laws by drawing attention to those who are getting it right.
Let's hear it for the heroes who started shoveling and salting their sidewalks when the first flakes began falling last weekend and kept on shoveling and salting through extreme cold. Yes Virginia, there are places in the city where one can walk on clear, dry pavement.
People can nominate locations for a Winter Wonder award by calling 312-744-3623 or completing an online survey.
Businesses and organizations will receive their awards at the end of the foul weather season.
On the flipside are those places where pedestrians have been forced to blaze their own trail, carving out narrow pathways the width of a sturdy boot.
Chicagoans can lodge complaints about unshoveled sidewalks via the city's nonemergency 311 telephone number, or online, which can result in fines ranging from $50 for individuals and up to $500 per day for businesses.
CDOT has 15 public way inspectors who follow up on complaints, according to Pete Scales, the department's spokesman.
Though the inspectors have the authority to issue fines, "We'd prefer to instead remind people of their responsibilities and encourage them to be good neighbors by helping each other out," he said.
Since the beginning of the year, about 375 calls have been made to 311 about unshoveled sidewalks, Scales said.
Inspectors "have been getting property owners to comply without issuing any tickets so far," he added.