Dig into your spandex shorts, Little Bike People

City Hall wants its money, and a $100 fee is only fair

  • Pin It

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass and reporter Jenniffer Weigel talk Ald. Pat Dowell's proposal to issue a $25 registration fee for adults riding bikes in Chicago. (Posted on: October 25, 2013)

A Chicago alderman has come up with a great idea that every taxpayer — except the Little Bike People — will love:

A $25 city registration fee for adults riding bikes in Chicago.

It's a great idea, but it doesn't go far enough.

Instead of a $25 registration fee, why not a $100 registration fee? That way, Mayor Rahm Emanuel can plug holes in the budget.

When I suggested on Facebook that the Rahmfather could even give Chicagoans free cable TV if he made the bike fee high enough, the hordes of Little Bike People seethed in rage.

"I hope they put a $1,000 fee on beer can chicken so everyone can have free cell phones, Internet and Netflix," wrote bicyclist Grant D. "That way, the 'little cooking people' would pay for us little bike people."

Ald. Pat Dowell told me that she rides a bike, loves the idea of bikes in Chicago and has been a proponent of increasing the number of bike lanes.

What bothered her is City Hall essentially raising the city amusement tax on cable TV, which Dowell said would hit senior citizens the hardest.

The cable TV tax boost was proposed as Emanuel introduced a $7 billion budget with a $339 million budget hole.

Emanuel, who once loudly promised he wouldn't nickel-and-dime taxpayers to death, essentially nickels-and-dimes almost everybody to death — except his favored constituency, the bike people.

"But you can't balance that on seniors," Dowell said. "Most of our seniors don't go out for fancy dinners downtown or spend a lot of money at the theater or concerts. They don't spend their entertainment dollars that way. They watch cable TV. So I thought, 'Who else could contribute?' And I thought about the bicycle riders."

Under Mayor Rahmfather's plan, car drivers will be squeezed for about $120 million in traffic tickets from his infamous speed and red light cameras.

Those cameras are fronted as being all about safety. But who are you kidding, Rahmfather? They were always about the revenue.

And bicyclists — especially the aggressive kind with their spandex shorts, cleats and wild yellow shirts, zipping through red lights — they don't pay a dime.

Why should a driver pay and not a bike rider?

Many bicyclists respect the rules of the road. They're also often in danger from thoughtless car drivers. And no, I didn't write that last line as some verbal prophylactic against the irrational hatred often directed at me by the militant two-wheelers. It's true. There are good little bike people.

But the bad ones should pay.

It's only fair. A $25 registration fee is a pittance. That's why it should be increased to a C-note.

Mayor Rahmfather should also mandate that every bike commuter have a city sticker. And a license plate, so that when they run the red lights, the city's Rahm-cams can take their photos and make them pay through the nose just like the rest of us.

At a meeting with the Tribune's editorial board Wednesday, the mayor was asked what he thought of Dowell's proposal.

  • Pin It