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Should residents block sidewalks?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Should residents block sidewalks?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 14, 2010

Should residents block sidewalks with their cars on a regular basis?

Over the past couple of years the Woodstock Police Department has received complaints about a car blocking the sidewalk in the 100 block of West Todd Avenue. The vehicle is parked with the front bumper close to the garage door and the body of the vehicle entirely blocking the sidewalk and extending into the parkway (the grass area between the sidewalk and the street).

After initial complaints there was some compliance by the resident; an officer probably stopped by to explain the law, which would have been a resident-friendly way to handle it. However, the problem began recurring, and additional complaints to the Police Department have not resulted in compliance by the resident.

What action should officers take now, when they drive past and observe a car parked and blocking the sidewalk, as in overnight? Shouldn't they just stop, issue a ticket, place it under the windshield and continue patrolling? It's no big deal; just leave the ticket and go on...

And, if the resident still doesn't comply, shouldn't they just issue a ticket upon sighting every violation and let a judge deal with it?

Should a complaint by a citizen be required to prompt an officer to issue a ticket when he sees a recurring violation?

I have to presume that officers are monitoring this violation, because it has been called to their attention more than once. Perhaps they are even writing tickets occasionally. But it's not solving the problem.

In the meantime, pedestrians are forced into the street to walk past this vehicle. The Illinois Vehicle Code is clear about this, as is the Woodstock City Code. In some areas of Woodstock tickets are issued regularly to vehicles blocking sidewalks. Should enforcement be even across the City?

When parking laws are not enforced, residents learn they can disregard them. Then they begin to disregard other traffic laws. And then other non-traffic laws. As one person asked me a while back, does jaywalking lead to a life of crime? In most cases, no.

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