The back-story behind Chicago’s announcement that anti-dooring stickers will go onto taxi windows (and if all goes well, parking pay boxes) is both tragic and inspiring.
Last fall, Neil Townsend was killed on his bike when he swerved to avoid an opening car door. Colleagues from his employer Minimal Design, and others from the local bicycle community via Chainlink.org, formed the Look! Chicago group to encourage anti-dooring strategies.
Their efforts inspired us to take the message to the commissioner for Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), Rosemary Krimbel. BACP regulates taxi cabs and is responsible for the training of taxi drivers on how to share the road with cyclists and pedestrians.
We asked Commissioner Krimbel to put dooring warning stickers on taxi windows. After coordinating with Chicago Department of Transportation, she agreed, and also expressed an interest in adding anti-dooring PSAs to the rolling video content for cabs with video screens. That is still being explored.
Minimal designed the sticker that will go into cabs (pictured). Active Trans modified this slightly for the stickers that will hopefully go onto parking pay boxes, assuming an arrangement can be reached with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC.
Unfortunately, the contractor that manages their pay boxes wants the city to pay them to install, maintain and eventually take down worn stickers. Active Trans has asked them to waive the charge and donate the service.
The city also announced a proposed fine increase for motorists who cause doorings, going from the current $500 fine to $1,000. Active Trans is glad to see these anti-dooring initiatives because, with more and more people riding bikes in Chicago, it is imperative that motorists look for oncoming cyclists before opening car doors. This needs to become habitual for drivers.
The ordinance that would increase motorist fines also increases fines for rogue cyclists, from the current $25 fine to a range of $50 to $200. Too often we see people on foot, on bikes and driving cars traveling recklessly; Active Trans supports increased traffic fines as an important way to improve safety (along with better education and infrastructure).
Like motorists and even pedestrians who use roads recklessly, people who ride bikes recklessly should also be ticketed. We don’t endorse ticketing cyclists and drivers for minor violations that put no one at risk. Let the police focus on more important matters. But if you’re putting people at risk, a ticket is warranted whether you’re biking, walking or driving.
There is some other “clean up” language in the ordinance, like clarifying that cyclists don’t have to stay in bike lanes on streets that have them. The ordinance also officially sanctions what many of us already do, “taking the lane.”
Please note: an incorrect version of the sticker was posted initially. The correct version is shown above.