Pedicab group says first 2 months of new rules saw number of drivers cut by 30%

Less than two months after sweeping new city restrictions took effect for pedicab operators in Chicago, industry spokesmen said the effects have been devastating.

The Chicago Pedicab Association estimated that the net effect of Chicago’s new pedicab regulations has been an overall reduction in the number of pedicabs by 30 percent and a loss of income of 40 percent.

Earlier this summer, Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that limits the number of pedicab licenses to 200, mandates that pedicab operators must have a state-issued driver's license for one year before they can be granted a pedicab permit and places restrictions on where and when pedicabbers may operate.

Pedicab drivers can no longer do business in some of the busiest, most tourist-heavy spots in the city: Michigan Avenue and State Street from Congress Avenue up to Oak Street. They are also forbidden from operating downtown between 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.

But according to T.C. O’Rourke, a board member for the Chicago Pedicab Association, the city is picking and choosing how it enforces the ordinance.

“The [Department of Business and Consumer Protections] is issuing ‘pedicab chauffeur licenses’ to those who have held a driver's license at any point in the past, so no plaintiff for a lawsuit as yet,” O’Rourke said.  “[The BACP] is holding up all 'pedicab licenses' over some insurance issues.  They are claiming that neither license requirement is currently being enforced, but that all other requirements, such as insurance and safety items, as well as operational limitations, such as street and time bans, are being enforced.”

Chicago officials should take a look at the real effects of the city’s pedicab ordinance. It’s more than just misguided rules; this ordinance has been devastating to the livelihoods of pedicabbers.

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