They already exist in Oak Park and Joliet. Naperville is on track to allow them. And there are a couple of independent operators around Millennium Park, Navy Pier and Wrigley Field, but Pedicabs -- those bicycle powered taxis -- may soon get the full, warm embrace of Chicago.
For a fee, of course.
Mayor Richard Daley introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require pedicab operators to purchase a $400 license that would only be issued to those with insurance to cover $50,000 worth of property damage, $100,000 to cover injuries to one passenger and $300,000 to cover multiple injuries, Fran Spielman explained in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Some pedicab drivers already in business around Wrigleyville said the fees and the addition of 200 more pedicabs could put a damper on their business.
"It would hurt us. I think it would hurt the situation if they bring in that many cabs. New York is already flooded with them, and I just think it'll become this overwhelming population of people that aren't regulated," said Elaine McKenna with Chicago Rickshaw.
Daley cites safety concerns for the move -- equipment would be strictly regulated, with battery-operated headlights, tail-lights and seat belts required -- but there's likely also a bit of budgetary salivation going on, as well.
After all, the city does have a shortfall of roughly $300 million.
The bike-pedaled cabs could hold three passengers and would be confined to the streets of downtown, but could only operate during the evening hours. And while the city won't regulate fares, they'll have to be clearly posted and passengers won't be able to haggle.
Pedicabs are already popular in Europe and are used in New York City, Denver and Miami.