Emanuel won’t rule out $25 bicycle licensing fee

SHARE Emanuel won’t rule out $25 bicycle licensing fee
SHARE Emanuel won’t rule out $25 bicycle licensing fee

Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged Friday that it’s time for bicycle riders to assume the responsibility that comes with the privilege of having their own protected bike lanes, refusing to rule out an alderman’s plan for a $25 bike license.

“We’re going to study it. My one concern is diverting resources to enforcement when I really want police officers totally focused—not totally but majority focused on violent crime. And policing whether a biker has a license” is not a priority, Emanuel said.

“I proposed my budget. There’ll be some ideas proposed by others. There’ll be some changes. I don’t expect them to Xerox it and just run it. This is the time in which people give ideas. [But] they have work to out. They have to raise revenue. They have to be enforcible. They have to work all the way around the bend.”

Earlier this week, South Side Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) proposed a $25 bike license—with a mandatory, one-hour safety course—as an alternative to Emanuel’s plan for a 50 percent increase in the amusement tax tacked on to cable television bills.

Her motive was two-fold. Chicago needs money and needs to be creative about getting it. And if the number of traffic lanes available to motor vehicles is shrinking to make way for cyclists, there should be some responsibility that accompanies those benefits.

Taping, “Connected to Chicago,” to be broadcast at 6 a.m. Sunday on WLS 890-AM, Emanuel agreed with the need to crack the whip on cowboy cyclists.

“Now that we’re expanding bike lanes and it’s part of the regular transportation system, they have to stay in their lane and abide by the law. If it’s a red light, that applies to you. If there’s no turn, that applies,” the mayor said.

“We are seeing more bikers. I see `em all the time like on Milwaukee Ave. and wherever I am throughout the city. That’s a good thing. It’s helped us recruit new technology companies. But to the bikers—and there’s been no greater advocate [than] the mayor here—I would just say, `You have to abide by the laws. They apply to you. There’s a lane for you . There’s a light. There’s a stop sign. And if the cars are going to respect that and the rules of the road, you have to respect the rules of the road. ‘ ”

In 2011, the City Council agreed to “level the playing field” between cyclists and motorists — by banning texting and talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device while riding.

It was not known how many tickets the ordinance has generated.

Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, a bike advocacy group, has declared his opposition to bike licensing, arguing that it would “discourage cycling” and “cost more money than it would raise.”

That’s why Burke said he’s not are of any other American city that licenses bikes.

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