Delivery truck drivers and everyday motorists who double-park in downtown Chicago will soon pay through the nose for those transgressions.
At the behest of downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety on Monday moved to triple — from $100 to $300 — the fine for parking or loading in a lane of traffic or bike lane.
The crackdown is expected to be approved by the full City Council on Wednesday.
Reilly has said he has been inundated with daily complaints from “every downtown neighborhood” about “rampant parking and loading in traffic lanes and bike lanes.”
The “vast majority of offenders” are commercial fleet vehicles from companies including UPS, FedEx, Amazon and DHL along with “18-wheeler beverage delivery trucks,” the alderman said.
“The city has designated hundreds of curbside loading accommodations for the delivery of freight downtown — yet delivery vehicles continue to regularly obstruct lanes of traffic to make their deliveries – often when curbside loading is available to them,” Reilly wrote in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times on the day he introduced the crackdown.
Reilly noted that the city recently tried to combat the problem by installing loading zone metered pay-boxes to make certain loading zones “turn over” regularly instead of being used by commercial vehicles all day.
It didn’t work.
“Large commercial fleets look at the current $100 fine as a mere annoyance. It is not an effective deterrent and, as a result, we are seeing this rampant abuse that clogs traffic and puts other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists at risk,” Reilly wrote.
“It’s my hope that, by making these fines much steeper, it will quickly improve compliance with our traffic safety laws.”
In an emailed newsletter to his constituents, Reilly warned that he is “prepared to keep raising fines until delivery companies instruct their drivers to follow the law.”
To generate $13.8 million, the city last year started charging drivers to park in loading zones in three congested wards in or near the downtown area: the 2nd, 27th and 42nd.
Loading zones had long been tied to the proprietor — not the user. In the pilot areas, the user of the loading zone now pays at a rate of $14 an hour. Loading zones in front of hospitals, schools, hotels, day care centers and government buildings would be exempt.
The rate is $500 for the first 20 feet of space in the Central Business District and $110 outside the downtown core. Every additional foot would cost $50. Fines for parking in loading zones in the pilot area would rise to $140.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said there was “no rhyme or reason to how loading zones got awarded” and that opened the door to rampant abuse. “It’s a reform that’s been long overdue,” he said.