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Mayor Seeks Bigger Fines For Cyclists Who Break Traffic Laws, 'Dooring'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cyclists who violate traffic laws or motorists who open their doors in front of people on bikes would face steeper fines under a measure Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced to the City Council on Wednesday.

Under the mayor's plan, the fine when cyclists disobey traffic laws would go from a flat $25 to a range of $50 to $200, depending on the violation.

"If they are sharing the roadway with vehicles, cyclists must obey all traffic laws, including yielding to pedestrians, stopping at traffic signals and indicating when they are making turns," Mayor Emanuel said. "When the traffic laws are obeyed, everyone is safer. By increasing the fines for failing to obey the law, cyclists will behave more responsibly, increasing safety and encouraging others to ride bikes."

Mixed Reviews From Cyclists

The mayor's proposal would also double the fine for "dooring" cyclists – by opening a vehicle door into their path – to $1,000.

The fine would also double, to $300, for anyone who leaves a car door open in traffic.

The mayor's office said there were more than 250 dooring accidents in the city last year.

"I've been doored or hit about 5 times," said 32nd ward Alderman Scott Waguespack.

Alderman Waguespack says the real task is enforcing the rules - and schooling drivers and bikers on how the bike lanes work.

The Emanuel administration has launched an effort to place stickers on the rear passenger windows of every cab in the city, saying "Look! Before Opening Your Door." The move is an effort to make sure cab drivers are aware of the need to look out for cyclists approaching their cabs from behind.

WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser reports cyclists were giving the mayor's plans mixed reviews.

Amanda Neal, an employee at On The Route Bicycles, admitted she breaks traffic laws "a lot" when she rides.

"On my way here, I think I ran at least 10 reds," she said. "I think people definitely need to pay more attention to the actual laws while they're biking. I know a lot of cyclists who don't pay any attention to the laws, and I think that's where a lot of animosity towards cyclists comes from."

Will Godfrey bikes 20 miles every day to and from work. He likes the plan.

"It's a problem when you violate other vehicles or other cyclists' right of way. And then it actually gets dangerous," said Godfrey.

Sean Cooley said he's concerned the increase in fines might be used as a revenue generator for the city.

"It's the city of Chicago," he said.

Cyclists do like the increased fine for dooring, however.

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