Jan 31, 2022 - News

Annual dibs debate hits Chicago

A chair in snow

A Lakeview resident saves a parking spot with a Bears chair. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

👋 Hey, Monica here. As we emerge from a snowy weekend and brace for more on Wednesday, I figured it was time to share a few cold facts about dibs.

Dibs definition: Using chairs and other junk to "save" shoveled-out parking spaces with the implied threat of punishing violators.

  • Second definition: What your neighbors are probably doing right now.

Why it matters: Neighbor wars, online debates and bar fights erupt over dibs every year — often fueled by more emotion than data.

  • I researched the topic for WBEZ in 2019, back when commutes were still a big deal for most.

Background: Ever since Mayor Richard J. Daley urged citizens to help shovel the streets during the great storm of 1967, Chicagoans have practiced dibs with the implicit blessing of city leaders.

Yes, but: Dibs are 100% illegal according to Chicago's municipal code, which states, "no person shall use any public way for the storage of personal property."

Zoom in: Dibs cause crimes. After snowstorms, the CPD routinely investigates scores of smashed windows, slashed tires and even severed brake lines on cars that "took a saved spot."

My proposed solution: Copying the Twin Cities' Snow Emergency Parking Rules that kick in during significant snow storms. The city directs all cars to one side of the street for plows to clear the other side in 24 to 48 hours.

📬 Where do you stand on dibs? Right or wrong? Email us your opinions at [email protected]

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