City Council Set To Vote on Pedicabs Today

onNYTurf reports:

What started as a very positive process to bring much desired regulation to the growing pedicab industry has been completely turned on its head, and this afternoon city council is scheduled to vote on a bill that has become so twisted that the bill’s sponsor and a co-sponsor have taken their names off of it.

At the top of the list of bad policy in this bill is a citywide cap of 325 pedicabs, the right of the police to ban pedicabs from any street for 14 days at will, and all of Midtown for the seven weeks of the holiday period. This means that pedicabs may be banned from Midtown during Thanksgiving and Christmas, right when they are most useful. There are a number of other terrible additions that have been made to this bill.

A media advisory from Pedicabnews has the details on Intro. 331-A:

  • Police may designate any streets as "congested" and ban pedicabs from those streets for two week intervals. There is no limit on the number of streets that can be treated this way or how many times the two-week ban can be renewed.
  • Any Community Board can request that pedicabs be banned from their streets permanently. This request will be considered by NYC DOT and the NYPD.
  • Police can bar pedicabs from midtown entirely, throughout the two months of the valuable Christmas season.
  • Travel on bridges and bike lanes is banned, so there can be no inter-borough connection.

  • Electric-assist motors are totally banned, including tiny 750 watt models, (a hair dryer is 1500 watts). Federal law regards them as so inconsequential that vehicles employing them are defined as bicycles.
  • Multiple pedalers are banned.
  • There will be a virtual ban on pedicabs in the outer boroughs. The "cap" of 325 bikes, (60% of the existing fleet of about 500, with resulting loss of jobs), will concentrate all bikes in the most lucrative venues like the theater district, with no pedicabs left to service the rest of Manhattan and the city.

These restrictions will marginalize pedicabs into a Times Square sideshow. Preventing them from eventual incorporation into the transportation system as an alternative to oversized, motor vehicles.

  • A huge two million dollar insurance policy required, (Yellow cabs need $350,000), and $4,000 fines.
  • Nothing is being done that would alleviate the alleged most serious problems — like bunching around theaters. Instead, the harsh remedies of the police force will be applied, decimating the economic viability of the industry.

Photo by Olga Mazurkiewicz

  • i can see the headlines now:

    OUT-OF-WORK PEDICABS ROBBING TOURISTS IN NEW CRIME WAVE

    (j/k…but this new bill is nothing to laugh about)

  • This is ridiculous!

  • Can you patch my typo on ChristmasS

    thanks for picking up this shameful story!

  • Thanks Will, fixed it.

  • ddartley

    Under this bill, cops or certain city agencies can order pedicab operators to scram if certain exigent or exceptional circumstances exist, including, but not limited to, “unusually heavy pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”

    Lucky for the environmental good guys (i.e., pedicabs, as opposed to cars), in Times Square, one of pedicabs’ main loci, there is no such thing as “unusually heavy…traffic,” and “heavy traffic” is NEVER “exceptional” in Times Square! I’m serious. Heavy auto/ped traffic there is the norm, so, seriously, it should not be cited by a cop or City agency as a reason to kick pedicabs out from that area.

    I haven’t read the whole thing (and I haven’t kept up with the issue, nor have I read the latest draft of the originally superior bill, 75), and so I don’t know if I’ve quite come around to supporting Int. 331, but there are two things in it that I think are improvements over earlier drafts:

    1. the cap of 325 is supposed to sunset after two years! I know, there shouldn’t be a cap at all unless yellow cabs’ numbers are also cut, but it’s a sign of some improved hope!

    2. there is no longer the asinine, infuriating “no pedicabs in Central Park” provision.

    In my so-far-superficial reading of the bill, I pick up two more good laughs:

    1. “The pedicab vehicle itself is manufactured in various incarnations, including a version called the ‘party bike[.]'” Get out of town. Pedicabs are transportation; the “party bike” is a teenagers’ novelty. Uh, seriously, I mean it, get out of town. You have no place drafting legislation if you think the party bike is a pedicab.

    2. If the law is passed, various City agencies will together produce a report that discusses, among other things, the law’s success in “minimizing the the effects of pedicabs on traffic and congestion.” Well, pedicabs’ effect on traffic is to make it more efficient. So it’s a pity the law seeks to MINIMIZE that effect.

    The ubiquity of this particular aspect of Conventional Thinking is a real blight on humanity: something’s ingenious? Fun? Entrepreneurial? Efficient? Superior? And just a little too different from the older thing it’s competing with? KILL IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I think this quote from Caroline at TA in the NY1 report should be repeated over and over:

    “We think that [City Council is] anti-environment, anti-small business and completely inconsistent with the mayor’s long-term sustainability initiative, Plan NYC,” said Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives.

    http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=67203

  • lala

    This is completely ridiculous. Either there’s a lot of ignorance on the City Council (very likely), or some folks are getting paid for political favors. Quinn and Bloomberg are of course hypocrites. Sue ’em.

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