The Chainlink

Hey Folks—

I’m writing today in the hopes that you will call and/or email your Alderman asap and ask that he or she vote NO on the current proposed pedicab ordinance, until the removal of “Section V”, the prohibition on the operation of pedicabs on both Michigan Av. and State St. from Congress Pkwy (500 S.) to Oak St. (1000 N.) at all times, as well as the in the Loop during rush hour (7am-9am & 4pm-6pm.) 

The ordinance, sponsored by Alderman Tom Tunney, is slated for Committee on April 29 and expected to go to City Council on April 30, where it is likely to pass unless action is taken.   

These bans are highly problematic for a number of reasons.  Michigan Av. and State St. are the most pedestrian and tourist oriented areas of downtown and many pedicab operators make the bulk of their income here.  In addition to being prohibited from soliciting fares here, we will also be prevented from taking passengers picked up elsewhere to the numerous hotels, restaurants and institutions—some of the city’s most popular destinations—along this two-mile corridor.  Frankly, no tour of the city is complete without traveling these iconic streets.

Michigan Av. and State St. are also essential two-way streets and navigating the Loop and River North becomes virtually impossible without them.   At best, several additional blocks will be added to most trips.  The layout of the largely one way street grid was established with the assumption that vehicles would utilize these arterial streets; westbound traffic on Monroe at Michigan, for example, is required to turn onto Michigan Av.  Temporary street closures, for events, filming, construction, etc. will complicate matters even further.

These geographic and time restrictions have been added to the ordinance in the name of “preserving the public health and safety” and “avoiding traffic congestion”.   However, no pedicab related injuries or traffic studies have been cited.   

The pedicab industry in Chicago embraces regulation.  Provisions within this ordinance like insurance requirements, demanding fares be posted and basic safety standards will raise the level of service provided.  Under the new ordinance, those pedicab operators engaging in dangerous behavior or who impede the flow of traffic will be identifiable, subject to loss of license and fines as high as $1,000.  To label pedicabs a nuisance by permanently banning them from essential streets and at peak times, without ever having tested the effects of *reasonable* regulation, is unwarranted and unfair.  It also sets a dangerous precedent for human powered transportation.

If you can, please call and/or e-mail Alderman Tunney (773.525.6034, ward44@cityofchicago.org) as well.  Ask that he remove “Section V”, regarding to the Michigan Av., State St. and Loop Rush Hour bans be removed from his proposed pedicab ordinance.  You don’t need to live in the 44th Ward to do so.

You can find your own Alderman here:

https://webapps3.cityofchicago.org/StickerOnlineWeb/geoWardLookup.do

 

Thanks & please share,

 

T.C.

 

P.S. The current proposed ordinance is here: Pedicabs_Updated_Sub_4_10_14_ver1.pdf

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Thanks for sharing! There is no reason for that section, seems like it wasn't thought out much at all :/

Question: of all the problems this City is facing, when did Pedicabs become one of them?


Why is this being pushed now? by an Ald. who doesn't even have downtown in his Ward?

He probably found himself, driving (alone in his car) down Michigan in the same lane where taxi and bus traffic is always impeding flow anyway, but stuck behind a pedicab for a couple of blocks.

Tominator said:

Question: of all the problems this City is facing, when did Pedicabs become one of them?


Why is this being pushed now? by an Ald. who doesn't even have downtown in his Ward?

He has Wrigley Field. Ald. Reilly is piggy-backing downtown. 

Tominator said:

Question: of all the problems this City is facing, when did Pedicabs become one of them?


Why is this being pushed now? by an Ald. who doesn't even have downtown in his Ward?

Pedicabs don't cause traffic congestion, but there are operators who are inconsiderate about where they ride or park.  Even a small level of regulation would weed these people out, let alone the fines being proposed here (as high as $5,000!)

Tom Tunney is Alderman of the 44th Ward, Wrigley Field.  Section V (five) of the proposed ordinance allows City Council to permanently ban pedicabs from operating anywhere at  any time they see fit.  Wrigleyville might be next...

I think a few emails to Aldermen could prevent this from happening.

Tominator said:

Question: of all the problems this City is facing, when did Pedicabs become one of them?


Why is this being pushed now? by an Ald. who doesn't even have downtown in his Ward?

+11

The Sun-Times did a quick piece on the proposed ordinance today.  Originally, it didn't mention the bans, but I spoke with Fran Spielman and she made some heavy revisions.

http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/pedicab-operators-say-...

Pedicabs, such as this one from Chicago Rickshaw at Navy Pier in May 2013, could be regulated under a renewed push by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th).

Pedicab operators say a crackdown could put them out of business

Chicago is finally getting around to regulating pedicabs, but in a way that operators warn could put a popular form of "green transportation" out of business.

Just as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration moves to fill the regulatory void that has allowed ride-sharing companies to siphon business from taxicabs, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) is preparing to push through the pedicab licensing ordinance he introduced nearly a year ago.

The City Council’s Transportation and License committees will meet next week to consider Tunney’s plan to cap the number of pedicab licenses at 200 and empower aldermen to ban pedicabs from congested areas “in the interest of preserving health and safety or avoiding traffic congestion.”

Tunney’s ordinance also would  require pedicabs to: post a fare schedule; meet rigid safety standards including passenger seat belts; get a pedicab operator's permit and follow the "Rules of the Road"; face pedicab impoundment if they violate city rules; provide proof of workers compensation and liability insurance and purchase $250-a-year licenses and $25 decals.

"We’ve been experiencing issues around Wrigley Field where we’ve got pedicabs operating without a [pre-established] fare, without a fare structure, without licensing. We feel it’s time to bring them in under the umbrella of regulation,” Tunney said this week.

“It’s a creative way of transportation. We are welcoming them—as long as we can get our arms around them. There’s no consumer protection for safety, for licensing or fare regulation. I’m afraid we’ll have a major accident and it’ll be like, why haven’t you done this? We’ve been working on it for a couple of years. We’re probably one of the last major cities to put regulations on them. I’m comfortable with it.”

What Tunney failed to mention is that a final copy of the ordinance distributed by his chief-of-staff would also prohibit the operation of pedicabs on both Michigan Avenue and State Street from Congress Parkway to Oak Street  and in the Loop during rush hours.

That doesn’t sit well with the newly-formed Chicago Pedicab Association.

 "This is going to potentially destroy the pedicab industry in Chicago. We won't be able to navigate the Loop and River North areas or pick up passengers in any of these areas, said board member T.C. O'Rourke.

“The Loop, Michigan Avenue and State Street are the most pedestrian- and tourist-oriented areas of the city. Many pedicab operators make the bulk of their income working in these areas. They’re where the people are. Essentially, it would make working in the Loop and River North virtually impossible. We wouldn’t able to showcase these iconic streets. The rest of the ordinance is tolerable, but not this part.”

Robert Tipton, owner of 20 pedicabs operating as Roger Rickshaw, could not be reached for comment on Tunney’s renewed push.

When the ordinance was introduced last May, Tipton accused Tunney of going too far, potentially stifling a popular form of green transportation that should be welcomed by any major city.

“This is a non-polluting, emission-free vehicle. Every city in the world needs that. Chicago should do any and everything it can to encourage this new form of transportation instead of restricting it,” Tipton said then.

“Everybody who tries it comes away smiling," he said. "It also serves a real purpose. Pedicabs fit into a bike lane and between cars. They can get where they’re going quicker than a cars. It’s an urban solution. There should not be any limit. You’re just limiting the ability for people to get around. There’s also a competition between taxicabs and pedicabs. Why put a limit on the underdog when they don’t even know how many exist? What if there’s 300 citywide?”

At the time, Tipton was equally opposed to requiring pedicabs to post fares. Instead, he proposed a simple sign that states that fares are negotiable and should be arranged before the ride begins.

“This is a bicycle. If you have a strong headwind or passengers who weigh more than others, the driver needs to be able to adjust that rate based on conditions,” he said.

A 15-minute ride can cost $10, $20 or $30 and that flexibility should be allowed to continue, he said.

“It’s a supply-and-demand type of deal. If there’s high demand, prices are higher. If it’s low, they’ll gladly take the ride,” Tipton said.

Five years ago, a similar ordinance introduced by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley stalled after pedicab owners who lease their vehicles by the day and week were unable to obtain worker’s compensation insurance for drivers who work as independent contractors.

Tipton warned that the same thing could happen again.

“Our drivers decide when and where to work and how much they’re gonna charge. We do not pay them. They pay us. We rent a cab to them on a daily or weekly basis. The insurance companies—when they go to figure out worker’s compensation costs, it doesn’t fit the mold,” he said.

Chicagoist picked it up:

http://chicagoist.com/2014/04/23/pedicab_operators_worried_about_ne...

Pedicab Operators Worried About Proposed New Regulations

2014_4_23_pedicabs.jpg
Photo credit: Suzanne Nathan

The City Council’s Transportation and License Committees will review next week a proposal from Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) to regulate pedicabs in Chicago and some language in the legislation has owners of the bicycle taxis concerned the ordinance may regulate them out of existence, if it passes.

The ordinance, introduced by Tunney last May, would cap the number of pedicabs at 200 and require them to post fare information, follow the rules of the road and meet safety standards such as require seat belts for passengers and have proof of liability and workers' compensation insurance. But there is another caveat in the final draft being presented to the Transportation and License committees that would ban pedicabs in the Loop and on State Street and Michigan Avenue, from Congress Parkway to Oak Street, during rush hours. That’s a sizable area and, on one level, we can understand wanting to keep those streets free for other traffic. The Chicago Pedicab Association, however, sees this as a poison pill.

"This is going to potentially destroy the pedicab industry in Chicago. We won't be able to navigate the Loop and River North areas or pick up passengers in any of these areas," said board member T.C. O'Rourke.

“The Loop, Michigan Avenue and State Street are the most pedestrian- and tourist-oriented areas of the city. Many pedicab operators make the bulk of their income working in these areas. They’re where the people are. Essentially, it would make working in the Loop and River North virtually impossible. We wouldn’t be able to showcase these iconic streets. The rest of the ordinance is tolerable, but not this part.”

Tunney originally drafted the ordinance because of issues with pedicabs operating unregulated around Wrigley Field. He told the Sun-Times, "We’ve been experiencing issues around Wrigley Field where we’ve got pedicabs operating without a [pre-established] fare, without a fare structure, without licensing. We feel it’s time to bring them in under the umbrella of regulation.”

Much like the food truck ordinance Tunney also sponsored, that has resulted in several mobile food vendors closing up shop rather than deal with a process they believe is stacked against them, pedicab operators feel this proposal could halt the growth of what they say is a green industry before it has a chance to grow. Robert Tipton, who operates 20 pedicabs under the banner Chicago Rickshaw, said last year fares should be negotiable and arranged before a ride starts and that there should be no limit to the number of them operating in Chicago.

“You’re just limiting the ability for people to get around,” Tipton said at the time. “Why put a limit on the under-dog when they don’t even know how many exist? What if there’s 300 citywide?”

I read in the Tribune piece that seat belts will be required!?  I can understand a seat belt in a fast moving car to prevent you from going through the windshield or being ejected from its protective confines in the event of a crash, but a seat belt on a tricycle seems a little ridiculous.  Are these things even moving much faster than walking speed?  I'm a little surprised helmets for passengers aren't being required in light of the other proposed regulations.

John Greenfield did this piece for Streetsblog:

Banning Pedicabs on Downtown Streets Could Strangle the Industry

photo

Antonio Bustamante at today’s Wrigley Field anniversary celebration. Photo: Matt Green

Members of the recently formed Chicago Pedicab Association say they can live with various rules and fees imposed under a proposed ordinance to regulate the city’s burgeoning pedicab industry. However, they maintain that the ordinance’s restrictions on where and when they can work downtown would drive them out of business.

In May of 2013, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney introduced the ordinance regulating the licensing and operations of pedicabs to City Council, arguing that such legislation was long overdue. Tunney’s Lakeview district includes Wrigley Field, a popular place for pedicab operators to pick up customers.

After discussion of the ordinance with other aldermen, city departments and members of the pedicab industry over the last year, the legislation is finally moving forward. A joint hearing by the Committee on License and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Transportation and Public Way will take place next Tuesday, April 29, at 12:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers. The full council may vote on the ordinance that Wednesday at its 10:00 a.m. meeting.

“While pedicabs are a unique and green transportation option for residents and visitors to our city, they remain one of the few business activities not licensed under city code,” Tunney said in a statement. “While many pedicabbers are good, safe operators, we need to ensure proper licensing, consumer protection and public safety.”

The ordinance would require operators to obtain a license, at a cost of $250 a year, plus a $25 decal for their vehicles, which would have to meet safety standards, including being equipped with seatbelts. Pedicabbers would need to post their fare structure on the vehicle, instead of negotiating the price before or after a ride, and the number of operators in the city would be capped at 200.

The dealbreaker for the pedicab association members is a provision banning them from operating during rush hours in the Loop, defined by the river, the lake and Congress, or from riding at any time on State or Michigan, between Congress and Oak. In his statement, Tunney says that the ordinance will help “improve the flow of safe traffic on our congested streets.”

CPA board member Antonio Bustamante argues that pedicabs don’t contribute to the problem of traffic jams downtown, and at ballgames and festivals. “There’s congestion to begin with,” he said. “We’re able to get in and out of congestion much easier because we fit between the traffic lane and parked cars, and we can get around stopped cars. We’re definitely part of the solution.”

Although Bustamante says pedicabbers can make good money working at special events like Cubs and Blackhawks games, he says the downtown tourist districts are their bread and butter. Numerous tourist attractions are located on State and Michigan, and he argues it’s virtually impossible to navigate the downtown grid without using these streets, since they’re the main two-way, north-south thoroughfares.

City officials have suggested pedicab operators use Columbus as an alternative to Michigan. However, Bustamante said accessing Columbus from the west requires pedaling up bridges over railroad tracks, tough work with a loaded vehicle, and the street is often closed to traffic for festivals, parades, and sports events. He noted that, while the ordinance is intended to level the playing field between pedicabbers and taxi drivers, there are no geographic or time restrictions on cabbies.

“If they’re going to pass the ordinance, at least remove the section about rush hours, and State and Madison,” Bustamante said. “I don’t have a big problem with the rest of it.” Tunney’s chief of staff Bennett Larson didn’t respond to my email asking whether the alderman would consider removing the downtown restrictions from the ordinance.

Bustamante owns two pedicabs, leasing the second one to another rider, and calls his business Kickback Pedicab. “I’m a safe operator, I already carry insurance, and I always tell my passengers what the fare will be in advance,” he said. He added that the 200-rider cap shouldn’t be a problem, since he guessed the new fees and restrictions will cause about a third of current operators to look for other work.

If the CPA can succeed in preventing the ban on downtown operations, Bustamente says he looks forward to continuing to work in the industry. “I spent 24 years working in luxury retail, and I enjoy the communication and salesmanship aspect,” he said. “It’s hard, honest work, and you get to spend time outside and be your own boss. It’s an opportunity to show people the city, and I get to be a tourist myself.”

You can sign our online petition to remove the ban here:https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/alderman-tom-tunney-44th-war...

Also, check out our Facebook page and the Chicago Pedicab Association website.

Thanks,

T.C.

TC, you may want to consider editing your original post to add the petition link so more people see it, in case they read your post but don't read all the comments.
 
T.C. O'Rourke said:

You can sign our online petition to remove the ban here:https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/alderman-tom-tunney-44th-war...

Also, check out our Facebook page and the Chicago Pedicab Association website.

Thanks,

T.C.

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