Sunday, June 07, 2009
Sometimes I don’t know how I get myself into the stuff I do.
Last night I found myself at a fundraiser for a very important
Alderman here in Chicago.
Why you ask?
Well, the city is trying to regulate us pedicabbers (see article
below) and the Alderman spoke up in our defense in a city council
meeting. My boss wanted to say thanks but was out of town, so he asked
me if I would go in his place.
It was fun! I had never been to a fundraiser like that. I spoke with
the Alderman and he was really a great guy. I guess there's something
new out there every day.
Wrap-around advertising on rickshaws stalls pedicab licensing
June 3, 2009
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
A demand for wrap-around advertising on rickshaws has stalled Mayor
Daley's plan to license as many as 200 pedicabs in downtown Chicago.
With bicycle-powered taxis already operating around Millennium Park,
Navy Pier and Wrigley Field, Daley proposed last month that the city
license and regulate them to guarantee public safety. But, the
ordinance is stuck in the City Council's License Committee, despite a
lengthy hearing on the issue earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Norma Reyes, commissioner of the city's Department of
Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, explained why: Pedicab
owners want to wrap their rickshaws in advertising, but the mayor's
ordinance expressly forbids advertising.
"Without advertising, they said they would not be able to exist," the
commissioner said. Reyes noted that ads are prohibited on horse-drawn
carriages because they're required to post fares, identification and
contact information. The same would be required of pedicabs "so people
know who is operating the business and how to contact them for
enforcement reasons," she said.
"It's a space issue. Where is the advertising going to go and still
have all the information that is required for public safety concerns?"
the commissioner said.
Reyes said she plans to meet again with pedicab operators to try and
find a middle ground.
But, she said, "We have serious public safety concerns. That is first
and foremost for consumers to have the information they need if there
is an issue with a rickshaw. For a police officer stopping them, maybe
it would be easy. But what if there is a traffic situation and a
driver in another vehicle wants to file a complaint?"
The mayor's ordinance would require pedicab operators to purchase
liability insurance and a $400 license. Operators would have to be
fingerprinted and pass both drug tests and criminal background checks.
They would have to be licensed Illinois drivers, doctor-certified and
at least 18 years old.
Equipment would be strictly regulated, with battery-operated
headlines, tail-lights and seat belts required.
The city would not set pedicab fares, but haggling that now goes on
routinely between driver and passenger would become a thing of the
past. The fare schedule would have to be clearly posted. Drivers would
be prohibited from charging more than that amount.
Pedicabs would be confined to city streets -- not sidewalks -- and
limited to the downtown area roughly bounded by Oak Street, LaSalle,
Roosevelt and Lake Michigan. To avoid rush-hour traffic conflicts,
they would not be permitted on the streets before 7 p.m. Monday
Passengers would be limited to three per rickshaw.