Ald. Richard Mell thinks it’s time for bicyclists to start paying their fair share for using city streets.
In a City Council hearing on Wednesday, Mell told Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein that it’s time to start requiring cyclists to license their bikes, just as motorists are required to buy city stickers.
“Have ’em licensed,” said Mell, who was expressing his frustration at hot-dogging cyclists who weave through traffic like Kevin Bacon in Quicksilver. “Have a bike license. Put a little tag on it. Pay a couple bucks. But if not that, at least say, ‘Here’s what we’re doing for you. How ’bout doing something for us? How ’bout adhering to the traffic signs?’”
We think this is a good idea. Many cyclists belong to anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist organizations such as Critical Mass, which block traffic downtown during rush hour. These smug progressives believe they deserve a free ride on streets paid for by gas taxes and license-plate fees because riding a bicycle is “good for the environment.” Guess what? If it weren’t for cars, Clark Street would still be an unpaved Indian trail. Try riding on that.
In fact, we think Mell’s proposal to license bicycles doesn’t go far enough. It’s time for the City Council to start licensing shoes. Why should people who walk around town be allowed to avoid parking tickets, license plates and city stickers? Doesn’t the city pave the sidewalks? It would be a simple matter for pedestrians to affix a sticker to the uppers of their right shoes, so police could see they’re licensed to walk in the city. The stickers would cost $5 apiece, and would be sold in every Chicago shoe store. Joggers would not be exempt, since the park district maintains the lakefront path. Police could chase down scofflaws on Segways.
The City Council needs to send a message: the days of the free walk are over.
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