Chicago alderman wants to crackdown on distracted cycling

September 14, 2011

(Flickr/Simona K.)

A Chicago alderman wants the city to crack down on distracted biking. Ald. Margaret Laurino of the 39th Ward has proposed an ordinance that would fine cyclists who use their cell phones while riding in the city.

If passed, the ordinance could mean fines of up to $500 for bikers if their distracted cycling causes an accident, while a first offense could equal a $50 ticket. Ron Burke of the Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago said he's only seen a handful of bikers using their cell phone while riding, but he said he still supports any ordinance that works to keep all commuters safe.

Burke supports the idea, but he's skeptical about enforcement.

"There's relatively little enforcement of the hands free cell phone requirement. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea to have it on the books. I think it still helps, but clearly enforcement would be better," Burke said.

If the ordinance passes, Burke says he hopes police will prioritize distracted driving cases over cycling cases.

Ald. Laurino's office calls this a common-sense ordinance. Spokesman Manuel Galvan said enforcement is a valid concern, and is something he thinks will be discussed in upcoming hearings about the proposal. Galvan said the hearings have yet to be scheduled.