Reilly settles for watered-down crackdown on pedicabs

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) had proposed banning pedicabs altogether from the River North entertainment district after 6 p.m. and prohibiting pedicabs from using amplified sound. On Wednesday, Reilly settled for a whole lot less.

SHARE Reilly settles for watered-down crackdown on pedicabs
Pedicabs would be banned from the River North entertainment district at night under a proposal from Ald. Brendan Reilly.

The City Council’s License Committee voted Wednesday to allow pedicabs to play music between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily — as long as the pedicab playing that music is transporting passengers.

Courtesy Chicago Rickshaw

Six months ago, downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) proposed radical regulations to put the brakes on Chicago pedicabs, silence their loud music and stop their sidewalk partying.

Reilly proposed banning pedicabs altogether from the River North entertainment district after 6 p.m. and prohibiting pedicabs from using amplified sound during all hours of the day and night.

On Wednesday, Reilly settled for a whole lot less.

After months of negotiations with pedicab operators, Reilly convinced his colleagues on the City Council’s License Committee to allow pedicabs to play music between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily — but only so long as the pedicab playing that music is “in the act of transporting passengers.”

“This allows the passengers to enjoy their music on their ride, which some pedicab operators say is important to them. However, it gets to the root of the issue related to curbside partying,” Reilly said.

“These pedicab drivers are being paid cash to spend hours at a time providing very loud, amplified music at the choice of their client while their clients are illegally drinking and consuming drugs on the right of way.”

Reilly said the sidewalk partying issue “came to a head last summer.” Although it “spikes seasonally when it’s warmer out,” it is a “persistent problem” throughout the year, he said.

“The 18th police district noted that this tended to happen around bars and nightclubs downtown where people either were removed from those nightclubs for various reasons, were over-served or were not old enough to get in,” Reilly said.

“These folks would bring their own party to the curb and basically have their own DJ as they waited outside for hours doing their own thing. … When you have these large groups congregating on the curb doing this illegal activity, it spurs other acts of illegal activity and, in some cases, we were having rival gang members running into each other at these curbside partiesand acts of violence ensued.”

In introducing the more rigid ordinance last summer, Reilly had made a different argument, pointing to “an increasing number of incidents involving pedicabs congesting narrow and busy two-way streets illegally staging in traffic lanes and lay-by lanes.”

“This is making it difficult for Fire, EMS and Police to respond to call for service in a timely manner,” Reilly wrote.

“In addition to the unsafe traffic conditions they are creating, they are also negatively impacting quality of life and public safety.”

Reilly justified the now-abandoned ban on amplified music by arguing that “most” pedicabs are now equipped with “amplified music systems and light shows.”

“The Police and local business owners complain pedicab drivers are being paid to provide curbside DJ service to illegal curbside parties on sidewalks in the entertainment district. This is resulting in disorderly behavior and fights in the streets. This places local hospitality security staff at serious risk & creates mayhem in River North. The loud music is also generating constituent complaints in select areas,” Reilly wrote in an email.

“When the Police, local hospitality businesses and my constituents all asked for help with this problem, I was more than happy to oblige.”


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