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Pekin Passes Scaled-Down Motorized Bicycle Ordinance

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
A visitor pedals a bike powered by both pedals and battery-driven small motors in downtown Washington, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

The Pekin City Council unanimously approved a new registration regime for motorized bicycles Tuesday.
The ordinance was originally proposed back in December after residents complained about noise and safety concerns. But the ordinance was tabled until this month to allow city staff to gather more information.

The scaled-back ordinance requires a one-time $15 registration fee beginning next year, rather than an annual fee. It also reduces fines for violating the ordinance, though police can still impound the bike if the ordinance is violated twice in a 12-month timespan.

Mayor Mark Luft said the modified ordinance is a good compromise measure.

"I think for a start this was put together well, and needed. Everybody can live with fair. I think this is one of those situations where everyone can live with fair. And I think that, I think we found that ground with this," Luft said.

The mayor said the ordinance could be "sharpened" or "laxed" depending on how enforcement efforts go over the next several months.

Excalibur Seasoning CEO Tom Hornstein said he felt the first draft was "heavy-handed" He met with city staff after seeing it because several of his employees rely on the bikes to get to work every day.

"Most people that employ a production staff will tell you that one of the biggest challenges to maintaining employment is getting people to show up each and every day," Hornstein said. "Now these things are great tools, because the individuals that use them, through other things that have happened in their lives, that's their sole source of transportation."

Hornstein said he's happy with the "middle ground" of the ordinance passed Tuesday was reached.

City Manager Mark Rothert noted this is one of, if not the first, ordinance passed on motorized bikes in Illinois. The vehicles are becoming increasingly ubiquitous as an alternate form of transportation for people looking to travel greener or who are unable to drive another vehicle due to a conviction.

Under Illinois law, a motorized bike rider must be age 16 or older. The bikes are limited to a maximum 20 miles per hour. Currently, state law doesn't allow for a motorized bike rider under the influence to receive a DUI citation.

Pekin Police Chief John Dossey said motorized bike riders ignoring stop signs or traffic lights are the most common violations currently encountered. Many drivers also complain about motorized bike riders who travel without lights at night.