Great Idea from Chicago: $500 Fine for Reckless Drivers

Here's a great idea from Chicago's mayor Richard Daley: a $500 fine for drivers who endanger cyclists. More from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Share the road with bicycles -- or pay

Mayor seeks fines of up to $500 for reckless drivers

February 7, 2008

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Reckless drivers who endanger bicycle riders would pay fines of $150 -- $500 if there's a bike crash -- under a crackdown proposed Wednesday by Chicago's No. 1 cyclist.

Mayor Daley, who once scraped the skin off his kneecap during a marathon bike ride in Michigan, has been there and done that.

He has had drivers open car doors in his path. He has had cars turn left in front of him and had a car pass within three feet of his bike.

"When someone opens a door -- that's why you have to be very, very alert on a bike," Daley said.

"Yes, it's taken place. And [there were] a few choice words. Every biker does that -- salutes the driver in a Chicago way."

All three violations were targeted by the ordinance introduced by Daley at Wednesday's City Council meeting. It's designed to reduce the number of crashes involving bikes and motor vehicles. There were 6,000 such crashes in Chicago between 2001 and 2005, killing 30 cyclists.

The ordinance establishes a fine for double-parking in a marked lane that's supposed to be shared by bikes and vehicles. And it raises the fine for driving, standing and parking in a bicycle-only lane.

The city has more than 110 miles of designated bike lanes and 21 miles of shared lanes.

Also Wednesday, the Council approved plans by Children's Memorial Hospital to build a new 22-story facility downtown with a helipad on its roof -- despite objections from area residents worried about safety. The new hospital should open in 2012 pending further government approval.

The Council also approved Daley's plan to turn back the curfew clock effective March 12 -- to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends -- to curb youth violence.

The mayor proposed that the city extend hardship eligibility for parking and red-light ticket payment plans to motorists whose homes are in foreclosure. And he proposed installing electronic message boards at McCormick Place with information about flights at O'Hare and Midway airports to make life easier for conventioneers.

People, not speed.