The NY Post made a fuss today about the non-story that pedicab law remains non-enforced. I’ve been a pedicab driver and talked to lots more, and believe me, that job is plenty hard without without the overbearing eye of the law bearing down on you. The whole story reeks of bias and bullshit – everything I know about pedicabs and NY police makes me skeptical of new regulations, and it turns out the problems identified in the article really aren’t problems in the first place.
Recently, I witnessed Park Police enforcing their own personal version of pedicab law on riders in Central Park, and if that incident reflects the enforcement priorities of the NYPD at large, I don’t think safety problems lie with the pedicab drivers – the onus is on the police to create a safe environment for pedicab drivers and their passengers. Look: the city still can’t keep cars from killing bike riders, which doesn’t inspire confidence in the notion that they could protect pedicab drivers, or their passengers.
The Post article identifies two problems with pedicab regulation: safety and prices. The safety issue is a non-starter for me. Even without a pedicab law that arbitrarily limits the number of cabs in the city, you can’t hit pedestrians with a bike, you can’t ride the wrong way, and you can’t recklessly endanger your passengers. Seatbelts don’t even make sense for pedicabs – there’s no windshield to fly through and no rollcage to protect passengers if the cab flips (highly unlikely, btw – most pedicabs are ultra-stable trikes that don’t flip), so being trapped inside is the last thing you want in a crash.
As for prices, there’s already a simple answer – ask how much the ride costs before you get in, and don’t take the ride if it costs too much. And drastically reducing the number of pedicabs in the city certainly won’t decrease prices.
The City Council wrote the current pedicab laws at the behest of the taxi industry. Trying to keep pedicabs off the road only encourages the petroleum-centric, dead end transportation system that creates safety problems in the first place.