Shovelers Against ‘Dibs'

Chair Free Chicago takes a stand against saving parking spots with cones and chairs

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When it comes to parking in snowy, blizzardy Chicago, there are things you can control (freeing your car from a hulking mountain of heavy white stuff) and things you can't (chairs, cones and other parking spot "placeholders").

Chair Free Chicago wants to give drivers a course of action for the latter, taking a stand against folks calling dibs and saving spots along public streets.

"You don't really have a voice to say, 'Let's not do this,' Chair Free Chicago co-founder Kevin Lynch says.

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Last year the grassroots effort set about making its point with downloadable "Chair-Free Zone" signs at Since then, organizers have seen spikes in web traffic corresponding with pending snowfall, and most recently they've enacted a new way to make their mark: shovel out an extra spot.

"It's a different way to articulate your point," Lynch says. It's an opportunity "to be a little bit more neighborly."

Mid-morning on Wednesday, a crew of about a dozen Chair Free Chicago shovelers are headed to Bridgeport to scoop out some extra spots and discourage "saving" them.

If you want to join the effort, e-mail And if you must know, the craziest placeholder Lynch has seen is ... a dollhouse. "People are trying to illicit sympathy," he says.

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