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Proposal to license and regulate pedicabs resurrected

  • Operator Joseph Glidden takes his passengers, Mitch Knothe, wife Cyndi and children Cate, 5 and Kent, 5, for a ride, just outside of Navy Pier in Chicago.
Operator Joseph Glidden takes his passengers, Mitch Knothe, wife Cyndi… (Antonio Perez/ Chicago…)
May 08, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) is resurrecting a proposal to license and regulate pedicabs.

The Wrigleyville alderman last introduced a pedicab ordinance in 2011, but the measure faced some roadblocks and stalled. At Wednesday's City Council meeting, he introduced a new ordinance he said is long overdue.

"While pedicabs are a unique and green transportation option for residents and visitors to our city, they are also the only business activity not licensed under city code," he said in a statement. "This ordinance will help legitimize the industry, increase public safety and improve the safe flow of traffic on our congested streets."

The latest proposal brings back the operational requirements for pedicabs to be no more than 55 inches wide and 120 inches long, equipped with seat belts, spoke reflectors on wheels, hydraulic or mechanical disc or drum brakes, and battery-operated headlights and tail lights visible for 500 feet.

Pedicabs also would need turn lights and a bell or audible signalling device, a requirement added since the last proposal.

Companies would need to secure a $250 pedicab business license instead of the $175 initially proposed, register each operational pedicab for $25 and have each pedicab operator get a $25 yearly permit.

Also under the new ordinance, pedicabs would be banned from giving rides to more than three passengers at one time and operators would be prohibited from operating the pedicab under the influence or blocking the normal pedestrian or vehicular traffic. A fare schedule would need to be posted.

Pedicab operators applying for a permit would be required to have a valid state driver’s license for two years, be at least 18 years old, certified by an Illinois-licensed physician that he or she has the capability to operate a pedicab, pass a drug test and not be in debt to the city.

One additional criteria new to the latest proposal is that within five years of applying for a permit, operators could not have been found guilty, on parole or supervision, in custody for any forcible felony, any crime involving moral turpitude, illegal sale or possession of a controlled substance, indecent solicitation of a child or criminal sexual abuse, or operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

Tunney also is continuing to push for companies to provide workers' compensation insurance for each pedicab operator unless the pedicab operator owns his or her pedicab. Insurance was a major sticking point the last time, because companies worried it would be too costly to afford.

It's still problematic, said Christian Blume, co-owner of Blume Brothers Pedicab, which has 22 operational pedicabs.

"We haven't been able to find an insurance company that's been able to quote us a reasonable rate for workers' comp," he said.  The pedicab operators act as independent contractors, not their employees, who lease equipment from the company, he said.

He added that the latest version seems better than the original. Gone is the specific restriction from operating downtown. And the insurance requirement was tweaked and spelled out from requiring a policy with a coverage of $1 million.

Companies would have to provide proof of having an insurance policy with minimums of $50,000 property damage insurance, $100,000 for injuries to or death of any one person, $300,000 for injuries to or death for more than one person in one accident with a maximum of $100,000 payable to any one person.

There is an added restriction to ban passengers from drinking any alcoholic beverage while being transported via pedicab. The fine for that violation would be a range of $1,000 to $5,000.

The fines for violating any other part of the ordinance would be between $100 to $500, and the pedicabs could be subject to impoundment. Pedicab operators and companies could get their operator permit or business license suspended or revoked.

The proposal heads to the Committee on License and Consumer Protection and Committee on Transportation and Public Way for consideration.

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