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