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Emanuel Proposes Fine Hikes For Reckless Cyclists, Doorings

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 8, 2013 6:40PM

Photo credit: Joseph Palmer

Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a hike in fines for both motorists involved in “dooring” accidents and cyclists who fail to obey the rules of the road. This news must please anti-cycling curmudgeons like John Kass and Mark Konkol greatly.

The fine hikes introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting would raise the fine for a bicyclist who ignores traffic laws from the current $25 to a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $200, depending on the violation. Fining bicyclists may come as a surprise to Kass, who penned columns last year calling them “the One Percenters of the Commuter Class” with no regard for traffic safety. DNAInfo Chicago’s Konkol, during his tenure at the Sun-Times, wrote the arrival of protected bike lanes made “drivers the new smokers” while describing the most egregious cyclists as “daredevil bicycle messengers, antique Schwinn-riding hipsters and arrogant office workers on hybrid mountain bikes.”

2013_5_8_look.JPG One of the main arguments in the drivers-versus-cyclists debate, besides the perception most cyclists disregard traffic laws, has been that the fines for breaking them aren’t applied equally. Which is why Emanuel also proposed raising the fine for doorings to $1,000. The fine for leaving a car door open in traffic would double to $300. The fine hikes are part of a campaign by the city and the Active Transportation Alliance to reduce the number of bike accidents in Chicago, which have increased by 38 percent over the past decade.

The city and Active Trans will roll out an awareness campaign educating taxicab drivers (and their passengers, if we're being fair) on the dangers of opening their doors in bike lanes. Stickers (shown, right) will be affixed to cabs across Chicago and could possibly wind up attached to parking meter pay boxes across town to spread the awareness campaign beyond cabbie. One problem with that, according to Active Transportation Alliance executive director Ron Burke, is there's no agreement with the private contractors to place them on the pay boxes.

The private contractor that maintains the pay boxes wants the city to pay them to apply, maintain and remove worn stickers on pay boxes. Burke wrote that he hopes the contractor would waive the fees and, seeing how the parking meter deal has been such a windfall for private contractors, maybe they should consider doing that. Since they're fleecing drivers with annual parking rate hikes, it's the least they can do.