Late at night on any given weekend, Uber and Lyft vehicles line up throughout downtown East Dundee, blocking roadways and causing gridlock along River Street.
Patrons leaving the village's popular bars weave in and out of traffic trying to find their ride-share drivers, many of whom double-park along the street to wait for their passengers, police Chief George Carpenter said.
"It's not a good situation," he said, and it typically lasts a "long period of time."
To alleviate congestion and make the area safer for pedestrians, the village is now designating four downtown parking spaces exclusively for ride-share and taxi drivers from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Signs with flags affixed to the top have been installed at the stalls outside Bandito Barney's Beach Club, 10 N. River St.
Most downtown East Dundee bars close at 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Cars start getting backed up as the establishments begin to wind down and crowds filter out, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said.
The "ride-share only" signs are modeled after a similar initiative implemented in downtown Naperville. In addition to solving the traffic issue, Johnsen said, village officials hope they will encourage the use of ride-share services to prevent bar customers from driving under the influence.
"We want to do this right. We want our patrons to be safe," she said. "It's really a win-win for everybody."
Bandito Barney's owner Roger Shelton also supports the signs and has agreed to have his security staff explain their purpose to his customers whenever necessary, Carpenter said.
For the first two weeks, he said, police will issue warning citations to anyone illegally parked in that zone during specified ride-share hours. The village board this week unanimously approved an ordinance that enables officers to enforce the "ride-share only" zones starting this month.
"This is a great idea," Trustee Scott Andresen said. "Anything we can do to encourage ride-share, I think, is a good thing."