Chicago’s pedicab emigrants embraced in Evanston

Chicago’s pedicab emigrants embraced in Evanston

Hailing a pedicab is a popular, efficient and reasonably priced way to get to and from Northwestern University home football games.

Despite their increasing popularity, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz put forth an idea earlier this month to allow no more than 10 pedicabs to operate in Evanston, according to Evanston Now. All 10 aldermen voted against the measure on March 9.

The proposal echoed Chicago lawmakers’ decision last June to heavily regulate the pedicab industry.

One Evanston alderman voiced safety concerns regarding pedicab traffic along Central Avenue around game time.

The area surrounding Ryan Field is certainly crowded, but that’s the general rule of thumb for drivers and foot traffic alike. Because pedicabs are generally smaller than most automobiles, these vehicles have an easier time maneuvering through the sprawl and provide a popular alternative.

These crowds are the primary reason Chicago pedicabbers can make the journey up to the games in the first place. Demand for pedicabs makes the trek financially worthwhile, the Chicago Pedicab Association’s Minku Sharma told Evanston Now.

Minku and other pedicabbers haven’t been so lucky just south of Evanston. In June 2014, the city of Chicago passed sweeping pedicab regulations that have hurt the industry. The city’s ordinance limits the number of pedicab licenses to 200, mandates pedicab operators hold 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.

In the first two months these rules were enacted, pedicabbers started to feel the pinch. The Chicago Pedicab Association estimated the net effect of Chicago’s new pedicab regulations has been a reduction in the number of pedicabs by 30 percent and a loss of income of 40 percent.

Fortunately, Evanston has not embraced these rules. Chicago should take their cue and repeal the burdensome regulations that have made northern migration necessary for many pedicabbers.

Image credit: Derek Schnake

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