In the mayor's latest round of fine hikes for Chicago scofflaws, Rahm Emanuel is now going after cyclists.
On Wednesday, Emanuel is expected to introduce a new ordinance to the City Council that would hit rule-breaking cyclists on the city's streets with higher fines, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Currently, bikers caught disobeying traffic laws face a $25 fine for all offenses. Under Emanuel's proposed ordinance, that fine would be increased to an amount ranging from $50 to $200, "depending on the severity of the violation."
Drivers would face harsher penalties for recklessness as well. Under the proposal, WGN reports the fine for motorists who "door" a cyclist — hitting bikers with a car door while entering or exiting a vehicle — would see their fines double from $150 to $300.
In addition to the newly-proposed fines, Emanuel also announced an anti-dooring awareness campaign for taxi passengers, the Tribune reports. Stickers will be placed on the rear passenger windows of all 7,000 Chicago taxicabs that say, “Look! Before Opening Your Door,” mayoral aides said.
The stickers, the Sun-Times notes, were created by MINIMAL design studios whose employee, 32-year-old Neill Townshend, was killed last year in a dooring-related incident.
According to WBEZ, there were 577 reported doorings in Chicago from 2009 through September 7, 2012. City and transportation officials had previously noted many doorings still go unreported.
On StreetsBlog Chicago, Steve Vance — who also specialized in urban planning — commented that upping the fines on rule-breaking cyclists likely "won't make a dent in behavior because the police don't seem interested in enforcement."
While dooring incidents are often deadly to cyclists, Vance also noted that larger fines for motorists who door bikers may not be the answer. "Fines aren't the limitation in preventing dooring," Vance notes. "It's enforcement and education."
Emanuel's announcement of the new proposal comes one day after he and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced the schedule for Chicago Bike Week, which takes place June 10-14 as part of Bike Chicago 2013.
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