Why alderpersons should vote no on Reilly’s ordinance to ban pedicabs from Navy Pier

Photo: Stephen Rees
Photo: Stephen Rees

Update 9/21/22, 3:15 PM: Unfortunately, during the report by the Committee on License and Consumer Protection at today’s City Council meeting, Reilly’s ordinance banning pedicabs from Navy Pier was approved by the Council without discussion, so it’s a done deal.

Here’s my prepared testimony for this morning’s Chicago City Council meeting.

Good morning City Council members, I’m John Greenfield from Streetsblog Chicago, the transportation news and advocacy website.

Today downtown alderperson Brendan Reilly’s proposed ordinance that would ban nighttime pedicab service from a section of Streeterville including Navy Pier, is up for a vote. In fairness, Alder Reilly has been doing a lot of good stuff lately to help keep bike lanes clear in his ward, but he’s on the wrong side of this particular issue.

To anyone who’s not familiar with them, pedicabs are bicycle taxis. They’re particularly good for transporting people short distances to and from crowded visitor attractions and special events. They generate less traffic congestion than car-based transportation like Uber and Lyft, cabs, and private vehicles, while reducing the potential for serious crashes, and putting out zero emissions.

Alder Reilly’s legislation would forbid pedicabbers from operating near Navy Pier after 6 p.m., when their service is particularly useful. He’s said that the pier asked him to introduce the ordinance because of issues with pedicabs operators “cluttering sidewalks and curb lanes,” although no one seems to view it as clutter when car drivers occupy curb lanes and bike lanes near the pier.

As Lena Guerrero Reynolds from the Environmental Law and Policy Center noted on Twitter, “It just feels excessive to completely exclude a valuable, sustainable, and enjoyable means of transportation because the pier is poorly designed for them. Maybe they should designate a pedicab drop-off lane instead of banning them.”

Look, I get it that pedicab operators can sometimes be obnoxious. But so can the drivers of ride-hail vehicles, taxis, and private cars, and when Chicago pedicabbers break traffic rules, they don’t kill people. Tragically, that wasn’t the case last October when a motorist who was reportedly speeding to get on the drive fatally struck art director Adé Hogue, 32, on his bike a block from Navy Pier.

Replacing car trips with other modes is a net win for traffic safety, congestion, and air quality, so pedicab bans are misguided. Please vote no on Alder Reilly’s ordinance. Thank you.

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