Chicago is taking action against bicyclists that break traffic laws and drivers and passengers that open their doors onto bicyclists by subjecting them to pay steeper fines.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the fines would increase from $25 to a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $200 for bicyclists that violate traffic laws. Additionally, passengers and drivers that “door” a bicyclist would face a fine increase from $500 to $1,000. Fines for leaving a door open would double to $300.
|Two-way Protected Bicycle Lanes on Dearborn Street, Credit: John Greenfield|
To heighten awareness for taxi passengers, Emanuel also unveiled an awareness campaign, which reminds passengers to confirm no bicyclists are in their path before opening the door. Stickers will be placed on rear passenger windows of all taxis and read, “Look! Before Opening Your Door”.
The fine hikes are no surprise as Chicago prepares to launch its bike share program, Divvy, in June. In addition, Mayor Emanuel has invested millions in creating bicycle facilities throughout the city.
|Chicago Blue Divvy Bike, Credit: Active Transportation Alliance|
Mayor Emanuel contends, “By increasing the fines for failing to obey the law, cyclists will behave more responsibly, increasing safety and encouraging others to ride bikes.” While this statement is true, I am curious to discover what the fine money goes towards. If the money is simply placed into a general fund, it is highly unlikely that money will support bicycle facilities. It would make sense to establish some sort of account dedicated solely to bicycles, whether it be bike parking, facilities, or signage, it seems to be the best use of the money.
As we learned in class, the fine for bicyclists breaking traffic laws in Portland is $260. It appears that Chicago’s fines are much less dramatic compared to Portland.
What are everyone’s thoughts about fines for bicyclists that break traffic laws? Is there an ideal fine amount?
Thank you to Ben Chaney for editing this post.
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