Pedicab Limits: Let the Free Market Decide

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This NY Sun editorial weighs in on the proposed pedicab restrictions:

Imagine if the long-distance bus industry were allowed to set a limit on the number of airline flights in and out of New York City, or if the beer industry were allowed to place a cap on the number of bottles of wine that could be sold in the city’s restaurants and liquor stores. Something just as outrageous is afoot in the New York City Council, where the speaker, Christine Quinn, is, at the behest of the gasoline-powered taxicab lobby, backing legislation that would impose a limit on the number of pedal-powered pedicabs serving New Yorkers.

In the 1920s the city had as many as 21,000 taxi drivers. A 1937 law set a limit on the license that eventually settled at 11,787, and even adding a small number of licenses to accommodate the city’s population growth has always been a huge political fight. The result is that taxis are scarce at rush hours, in the rain, on New Year’s Eve, and in the boroughs outside Manhattan. In limiting pedicabs, the City Council would repeat the medallion mistake, ensuring scarcity and creating a new class of medallion holders with an interest that runs counter to that of consumers.

Photo: kerfuffle & zeitgeist/Flickr

  • ddartley

    I am so happy that the business motivation of Quinn’s position is starting to get some press.

    Please stay on your Council Members’ cases about this!

  • brent

    Glad someone is acknowledging that there is debate on this topic. I want to express the direct threat I feel from this bogus legislation. Pedicabs are essentially cargo bikes and are generally found plying 5th and 6th Aves with the rest of the cyclists. They are contributing, rather significantly, to the safety in numbers psychology that cyclists often refer to. There are still very few cyclist, but every rider helps. Regulation will effectively eliminate pedicabs. This will mean fewer bikes on the streets. When Quinn says things like “We need to make sure pedicabs don’t clog our streets” she is really saying she wants fewer cyclists on the streets. She wants that tiny bit of PUBLIC street space that pedicabs use to be for taxis. She also mentions safety concerns, but I guarantee doesn’t have any statistics showing bikes clipping along at 8 mph are nearly as dangerous as vehicles. Yesterday I was in a taxi in midtown who I caught going 50 mph just to make a couple lights. Quinn and company don’t have two feet to stand on. That is why, whether or not you use pedicabs, if you care about increasing cycling as a viable means of transportation, please oppose Quinn and the rest of her shameful backers. Make your voice heard!

  • A bit lost in all this is the fact that taxis and pedi-cabs probably don’t compete for customers that much. Maybe traffic is so bad that a few people are taking pedi-cabs from Midtown to Canal Street but I suspect people traveling that far and have time constraints are less than 1% of the pedi-cab market.

  • ddartley

    Orcutt- yes, that’s an important point that is overlooked. I heard someone from the pediab biz on the radio pointing that out, and suggested that that shows that taxi opposition to pedicabs doesn’t necessarily come from taxi DRIVERS, but rather medallion and fleet owners. If it’s true, it’s another example of how opposition to pedicabs is far from a “people’s” movement.

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