Scramble after mayor's pedicab U-Turn

Supporters of the City Council's pedicab regulation bill were scrambling Thursday to regroup and plan their next move after Mayor Michael Bloomberg surprised everyone Wednesday by declining to sign the legislation.

"When we get to that room with the pen, we assume it's a done deal," said Rance Huff, a spokesman for Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-Queens). "There wasn't anything raised yesterday that wasn't discussed all along. Why wait until the bill signing to change your mind?"

As chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee, Comrie took the lead in crafting the regulations that would have limited the number of pedicabs and restricted their access to certain parts of the city. An impassioned plea from pedicab drivers at the bill signing led Bloomberg to put the bill aside and say he would "think about it."

Huff said Comrie would be contacting the mayor personally in the coming days to discuss the bill.

"Personally speaking, I would never let my kids get into a pedicab in midtown Manhattan," said David Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety, an industry group representing about 5,000 yellow cab drivers.

"Some say the pedicabs add a lovely flavor to the city. But that flavor is going to taste pretty bad if there is an incident and someone gets hurt."

Unlike Comrie, Pollack won't be reaching out to the mayor's office for an explanation. He said he's going to wait and see what the mayor's next move is going to be. The mayor has until March 30 to sign or veto the bill. If he does nothing, it becomes law automatically.

Councilman Allan Gerson (D-Manhattan) said he was ecstatic about the mayor's 11th hour reprieve of what pedicab drivers called "an industry death sentence."

Gerson had been one of the bill's initial sponsors, but he removed his name from the bill when it was expanded to ban electric assist motors and other limitations.

"This bill really went beyond the purview of safety and preventing congestion," Gerson said. "Good for the mayor for not signing it. Hopefully he'll go back to our original, [less restrictive] version."