Trouble in Chicago

Chicago, IL. Wednesday, December 2, 1998, ... Alderman Barbara Holt (5th Ward 773-667-4658) introduced legislation in the Chicago City Council that would ban motorcycles from Lake Shore Drive, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Alderman Holt claims noise and safety are the issues. Illinois ABATE members, including influential council member Alderman William J. P. Banks (36th Ward) decried this blatant discriminatory attack on motorcyclists. Citing the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) passed by Congress this year that prohibits motorcycle bans from roads using federal funds, the opposition to this new ordinance is gaining national attention. Not only is this a violation of federal law that could cost Illinois millions of highway dollars, it is also an example of a few Chicago Aldermen thumbing their noses at citizens and the Congress which constitutes reckless use of political power.

Alderman Holt and the co-sponsors are using the safety issue to justify discriminating against an entire class of vehicle users. A Chicago Sun Times article reported "... [Alderman Holt] said there may be a way around the federal protection. 'The city may not enact a law that applies only to motorcycles. However, if there's a safety issue involved, that negates the restriction. There's a safety issue involved. It's noise and safety. There have been fatalities as a result of reckless driving by motorcycles' weaving in and out of traffic', Holt said, declining to cite specifics".

Steve Zimmer, Vice President of Government Relations for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, said, "If safety and noise are the main concerns the city should enforce the laws they already have on the books. Innocent motorcyclists will pay the price for overzealous politicians trying to make a name for themselves. The majority of motorcyclists are law abiding citizens riding motorcycles that comply with the noise ordinances."

Motorcyclists have several options on how to fight this ban. Zimmer stated, "We intend to pursue efforts to stop federal money directed at the highway construction projects for the maintenance and refurbishment of Lake Shore Drive. I'm quite certain the majority of the Illinois Congressional delegation that supported the TEA 21 language will be very interested in this obvious disregard of their legislative intent." ABATE will be going to Springfield to revive past efforts to eliminate these types of ordinances. In addition to the introduction of legislation similar to the federal prohibition of motorcycle ban language, an effort to legislate the elimination Chicago home rule could also be on the horizon. ABATE of IL agreed to hold up on such legislation last year based on the political promise that a previously raised motorcycle ban issue would be resolved through the Chicago administration.

For further information contact Steve at 202-546-0983 or by e-mail at

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