Pedicabs Roll Toward Regulation - City Room Blog -

June 29, 2009, 4:45 pm
Pedicabs Roll Toward Regulation

By Simon AkamTheodore Parisienne for The New York Times Pedicab regulation was the focus of a City Council hearing after a June 10 accident.
Nearly three weeks after a pedicab collided with a yellow taxi at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn — leaving the pedicab driver seriously injured — the City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee met on Monday to consider proposed new regulation of pedicabs.
Interested parties — including pedicab operators, bicycle advocates, and representatives from the conventional taxi industry — weighed in at the session at City Hall.
“This was to hear all of the concerns that people will have,” said City Councilman Leroy G. Comrie, a Queens Democrat who is chairman of the Committee on Consumer Affairs.
The bill would create a window of time for pedicab owners to apply to the Department of Consumer Affairs for licenses and registration plates.
The window, which would begin 40 days after the bill is enacted, would last 60 days. After the 60 days had passed, no new licenses would be issued. However, there would not be a formal cap to the number of pedicabs in the city.
“There is significant agreement among members of the Council, the administration, and the pedicab industry itself, that a sensible and enforceable approach to regulation was, and continues to be, desirable and in everyone’s best interest,” said Jonathan Mintz, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Mr. Mintz suggested though that a clause in the draft law, which would require pedicab operators to be licensed before the start of the 60-day licensing period, should be changed.
“Even we cannot bend time and space to make that feasible,” he said.
Chad A. Marlow, the president of the Public Advocacy Group, also testified before the committee on behalf of the New York City Pedicab Owners’ Association.
Mr. Marlow said that the owners’ association supported the proposed bill in general, but criticized a part of the bill that would ban pedicabs from bicycle lanes.
“While it is perfectly safe to operate a pedicab on the roads of our city, it is unquestionably even safer to operate a pedicab in a dedicated bicycle lane when doing so is possible,” he said.
Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycle advocacy for Transportation Alternatives — a nonprofit organization that campaigns for better biking and walking options in New York — also spoke against a ban on pedicabs in bicycle lanes.
“On New York’s automobile clogged streets, bike lanes provide safety for pedicabs as much as they do for cyclists,” she said.
Ms. Samponaro also suggested that pedicabs have been unfairly cast as scapegoats for traffic elsewhere.
“Blaming pedicabs for congestion in Midtown is akin to blaming a problem on its solution,” she said.
But representatives from the motorized taxi industry said that more, rather than less regulation of pedicabs is needed.
“You may want to consider driver drug testing for pedicab drivers,” said David Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety. “You may want to consider a fare structure — overcharging only gives New York a bad name.”
Joseph Giannetto, the director for business development of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, added that regulation should stop pedicabs infringing on taxis’ traditional privileges.
“The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade would prefer regulations that accept taxicabs’ exclusive right to accept hails on the street,” he said.
Lacey Clarke, legislative counsel for the Committee on Consumer Affairs, said that the earliest a vote on the bill could take place is July 29.

So what happened with the injured driver and passengers?