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Parking and Puking: City Council Postpones Vote On Taxi Issues

An ordinance to allow taxi drivers to park overnight on side streets in a congested Far North Side neighborhood, creating a possible alternative to muggings and robberies, was postponed last week.

The ordinance proposed by Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) was put off until next month’s meeting of the Committee on Traffic Control and Safety. The ordinance would change the law to allow cabs to park on the commercial streets of Devon and Western Avenue between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Steve Wiedersberg, president of the Chicago Professional Taxi Driver’s Association and a cab driver for more than 25 years, said that city hall postponing issues involving cab drivers is nothing new to his organization.

The current law does not allow cab drivers to park on business streets for more than two hours at a time in a neighborhood that Wiedersberg said is home to many cab drivers.

Wiedersberg said he fears for the safety of drivers who make the early morning walk home, especially because they are usually carrying money.

“You don’t see these aldermen parking a mile away from their homes,” he said.

Stone said he foresees the ordinance passing at next month’s committee meeting. If passed, it will then go before the entire city council.

“This wouldn’t be a hindrance to anyone. Why shouldn’t a cab driver be able to park closer to home?” Stone said.

This consideration to allow overnight parking comes as the city council also considers a proposal to raise cab fares by 22 percent.

Cab drivers asked the transportation committee on Sept. 24 for the fare raise along with other extras, including a $50 fee imposed on individuals who vomit in the back of cabs.

A decision has not been reached on this matter.

Also attempting to secure a safer option for overnight cab parking is Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who is planning to propose an ordinance that will change laws on commercial streets in his ward, said Betsy Vandercook, chief of staff for Moore.

The 49th ward currently holds one of the highest populations of cab drivers in the city, Vandercook said. She said by adding overnight parking in commercial areas such as Sheridan Road, Howard Street and Western Avenue, the alderman is attempting to give the best possible solution for constituents in the area.

Vandercook couldn’t confirm when the ordinance would go before the committee.

Stone said as far as he’s concerned, there is already a pre-existing ordinance that allows cab drivers to park overnight on Devon Avenue, one that he passed some 15 years ago. He believes there has been a misunderstanding and has scheduled a meeting with the 24th District Commander Michael Wick, in hopes to stop ticketing immediately.

Wick could not be reached for comment.

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