John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, Tampa wants to turn down the bass on car stereos and an Iowa city declares war on poopy geese.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's being outlawed in cities across the world (past editions here):
UNREGULATED PEDICABBING, IN ILLINOIS
Should pedicabs be considered a form of taxi? Despite being slower and motorless, one Chicago politician insists that, yes, they ought to be regulated just like cabs.
The push to bring pedicabs under the city's power is the pet project of councilmember Tom Tunney, who's fought this campaign since at least 2011, reports RedEye. Tunney's proposed ordinance would ban the vehicles from certain neighborhoods and require rickshaw owners to obtain licenses and liability insurance. They would have to display a schedule of fares instead of calculating prices based on stuff like weight of the passengers, the weather and the number of hills on the way to the destination. New York made a similar move toward transparent fares last year after a Texas family was charged $442 for a 14-block journey.
The total number of pedicabs would also be capped at a low-sounding 200 bikes. Tunney said in a statement that all these measures would “help legitimize the industry, increase public safety and improve the safe flow of traffic on our congested streets.” That last item could be a reference to the vehicles zipping around during rush hour, which some say causes gridlock on major thoroughfares like the Loop.
Naturally, some pedicab operators feel threatened by this looming law. As cycle-driver Robert Tipton told the Chicago Sun-Times:
“This is a non-polluting, emission-free vehicle. Every city in the world needs that...,” Tipton said.
“Everybody who tries it comes away smiling. It also serves a real purpose. Pedicabs fit into a bike lane and between cars. They can get where they’re going quicker than a cars. It’s an urban solution. There should not be any limit. You’re just limiting the ability for people to get around. There’s also a competition between taxicabs and pedicabs. Why put a limit on the under-dog when they don’t even know how many exist? What if there’s 300 citywide?”
THOSE AWFUL GEESE, IN IOWA
An Iowa city besieged by pushy geese has made feeding the honk-happy creatures illegal. Under a new ordinance in Cedar Rapids, tossing crumbs at geese can result in a fine of $75 to $300, roughly equivalent to the penalties for having an unleashed dog.
The law arrives after city leaders surveyed their hometown's green spaces and found them covered with bird poop, which one pol said had “public health ramifications,” reports the Gazette. The geese have also tied up traffic in some cases and in general are acting like jerks, according to Council member Ann Poe, who stated they “are not wonderful, warm, engaging animals. They’re not always a lot of fun.”
Prior to the no-feeding bill, the council considered reducing the goose population by harassing them with border collies and slathering oil on their eggs, which kills the embryos inside via asphyxiation. It also briefly toyed with the notion of sending out hunting parties to shoot any goose on sight, but dropped the idea for reasons of “liability.”
LOUD CAR STEREOS, IN FLORIDA
The government of Tampa has had it with your booming car stereos, which are a "top source of complaints" to the local police, reports the Tampa Tribune. So it's trying to outlaw any auto whose stereo system can be heard from more than 50 feet away, with fines of up to $500 for music enthusiasts who refuse to turn down the volume.
For years, a certain subset of Floridians have complained of bass-pumping cars blaring through their neighborhoods, rattling windows and disrupting sleep. One man who's been begging the city to fight the cars for 13 years told the newspaper: "This is a 24-hour thing; your ears never get a rest. This noise is just destroying our lives." But folks who love their eyeball-rattling stereos assert it's just old fuddy-duddies complaining because they don't like today's youth culture. (One went so far as to compare his car to Elvis, who allegedly upset the elderly with "some loud guitar riffs.")
If Tampa manages to pass this law, it will have succeeded where Florida failed. A similar measure died in the state legislature last month, partly due to racial-discrimination concerns. For instance, Democratic senator Arthenia Joyner voted against the measure because she felt the police could use it to pull over dark-skinned drivers. "I offered the amendment to determine whether it would be profiling because the perception is that blacks do it," Joyner told the Tribune.