Kathy Posner

In June 2009 (that is two years ago!) I wrote a blog called, "Pedicabs are Pedicabs are Coming to Chicago.” I had attended a City Council committee on another subject and observed discussions on a city ordinance addressing whether pedicabs should be licensed. Since I saw pedicabs around, I just stupidly assumed that the ordinance had passed. It turns out I was wrong! I was frustrated sitting at the meeting because I was surprised that the Aldermen in attendance did not question Commissioner Norma Reyes more closely. She said that pedicabs should be licensed for safety reasons (I agree) and that only 200 pedicab licenses should be distributed. At the time I wrote, “As a friend of mine said to me, ‘In Chicago you have to follow the money to see why something is happening.’ That relates to my first group of unasked questions. Commissioner Reyes said that the City would cap the licenses at 200 pedicabs. The license cost would be $400 for two years. No Alderman asked the question on how a decision would be made as to who gets each one of those 200 licenses or exactly how the process of deciding who gets the licenses would work. The requirements Commissioner Reyes gave for someone to be licensed were fairly basic (driver’s license, insurance etc.). I could apply for a license. Since there will be only 200 licenses issued, they might become a valuable commodity; could I sell my license to someone for a profit? Could I lease my license to someone just like cab companies do?”

So now it is two years later and obviously nothing happened to the earlier ordinance because Alderman Tom Tunney (D-44) introduced a measure last week that would require pedicabs to be inspected, licensed and have an annual $25 city sticker affixed. Also, the pedicab company would pay the city a fee of $175 per year per vehicle.

There would be no requirement on rates the drivers could charge, so there would be no protection for consumers. Furthermore, there was no mention of insurance requirements for the drivers or owners of the vehicles, but Tunney wants the pedicab companies to carry workman’s compensation insurance. There was no mention of capping the number of licenses.

One of the main pedicab companies in Chicago is Chicago Rickshaw, an organization with a fleet of 20 three-wheelers. Drivers rent them for a flat $160 per week. I checked to see how much it would cost to buy a classic pedicab. The beautiful model pictured at the top of this blog costs only $3,400.

Seems like a good investment to me! “Posner Pedicabs”! A new business for me. Hmm… I will buy and you'll drive!

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