The Chicago City Council's license and transportation committees on Tuesday advanced a measure to put a ceiling on the number of pedicabs allowed in the city and bar them from downtown streets during peak traffic hours.
Under the measure, spearheaded by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), up to 200 pedicabs, which would have to buy a $250 license each year, would be allowed to operate in Chicago. Pedicabs would not be permitted to travel in the Loop and on Michigan Avenue and State Street from Congress Parkway to Oak Street at any time under the measure, among other regulations.
During Tuesday's hearing, Kickback Pedicabs' owner Antonio Bustamante stressed that the requirements would be a big blow to his business.
“Not allowing me .... to operate without restrictions would only kill my business — to the point that I would just be forced to move on to another venture," he said. "I would basically be forced to sell my cabs and start another business if I cannot operate on these two iconic streets here. This is where the tourists are. This is where the Chicagoan locals are. [About] 300,000 people walk up and down this street."
Two committee members voted against the proposed ordinance, including Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), who represents the downtown area and wants to see the ordinance expanded to cover more city streets that would be off limits during rush hours.
“There should be morning and evening rush hour restrictions for pedicabs in the Central Business District, north of the Chicago River. Under the current proposal, those downtown rush hour restrictions only apply to the CBD south of the Chicago River in the Loop. They do not cover the area north of the Chicago River where, in some cases, rush hour congestion is even worse,” Reilly said, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The alderman added that the proposed restrictions would be “burdensome for police officers to enforce.”
“That is a concern, considering the myriad issues our police officers must handle during the warmest weather months downtown — the very same months pedicab drivers seek to operate downtown,” Reilly explained. “I would prefer police manpower remain focused on maintaining visibility and safety ... for local residents and visitors — rather than chasing pedicabs all over the CBD when bad actors in that industry ultimately break these new rules.”