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The Chicago region’s current hub-and-spoke transit system leaves nearly half a million Cook County residents stranded in transit deserts.

Press coverage of bike safety ordinance all over the map

The Chicago Tribune presents two very different versions of the city’s proposed bike safety ordinance. John Kass’s column today is titled “Beware, cyclists, the other shoe has just dropped,” where he dreams about the city sticking it to cyclists./

On the other hand, reporter Hal Dardick wrote “Mayor Emanuel would give bikes more leeway on city streets.” Hmmm, John “Little Bike People in Spandex” Kass or reporter Hal Dardick?

We all know Kass is a goof whose job is to stir the pot, facts be damned. If you read the ordinance, you’ll see it does a lot for cyclists, as explained in Dardick’s story, like doubling fines for motorists that cause dooring crashes, clarifying that people on bikes can pass cars on the right, and making it legal to take the lane and ride two abreast at times.

There’s a lot of hand wringing in cycling circles over the ordinance’s increased fines for cyclists, and bike-haters like Kass are happy to fuel that fear. And it’s worth mentioning that the new, increased fine range for cyclists’ traffic violations ($50 – $200) is still lower than the one motorists face ($90 – $500, unless otherwise defined in the municipal code).

Active Trans believes that if you’re traveling recklessly and putting people at risk, a ticket is warranted whether you’re biking, walking or driving (especially when you’re driving.)

At the same time, we don’t endorse ticketing cyclists for minor violations that put no one at risk. Let the police focus on more important matters.

That’s been the police department’s approach, too, because they only issue on average less than four tickets per day citywide to people biking. That number is likely to go up, not so much because the fines are higher but because there are more people cycling and, with those growing numbers, a greater need to rein in the small percentage of cyclists who ride rudely.

We expect – and demand – that the police remain even-handed and only ticket cyclists who are truly putting others at risk.

Active Trans will continue to keep an eye out for any unwarranted ticketing of cyclists. We also want and expect more traffic tickets for reckless, aggressive driving that is so commonplace it’s become “normal.”