Newport City Council gives green light to pedicabs

By Sean Flynn/Daily News staff

Pedicabs again will be allowed on the streets of Newport.

The City Council granted licenses to Gregory Angel, owner of Pangea Pedicab Inc., and Ben Morris, owner of Boston Pedicab Inc., to each operate up to six of the bicycle-drawn rickshaws this summer.

The pedicabs will be allowed to operate beginning at 6 a.m. and continue to 2 a.m. daily.

That was a victory for the operators, because two weeks ago the council considered restricting the hours of operation until midnight. Morris and Angel argued that one on the busiest times for them is when the restaurants and bars close at 1 a.m. People who don't want to drive or have too far to walk are more likely to hail a pedicab, they said.

Under the revised ordinance, the pedicabs will be allowed on America's Cup Avenue, which Morris and Angel said was the most important thoroughfare for their businesses. Two weeks ago, the council considered prohibiting them on the avenue.

Under the amended ordinance passed by the council Wednesday night, the pedicabs will be banned from Memorial Boulevard and Memorial Boulevard West, except to cross on Bellevue Avenue or Spring Street.

Angel operated pedicabs in the city from 2001-2004, but not last summer, when he was serving in Iraq.

Morris' application for a license to operate pedicabs in the city was on the council agenda for Dec. 14. Angel submitted his application in early March.

On March 22, the council voted 6-1 not to allow any pedicabs and killed the ordinance proposal. The council reconsidered at a meeting two weeks later.

The council capped the number of pedicabs allowed on the streets at 12, for now.

"This is an experimental year," City Manager Edward F. Lavallee said.

The council approved the licenses and ordinance on a 6-1 vote with Councilwoman Colleen A. McGrath opposed. She said she has public safety concerns about the pedicabs.

Morris, through his attorney, Andrew Barrett, noted that Morris had hoped to operate eight pedicabs and Angel wants to operate four. However, Lavallee said he wanted to keep the permitted numbers equal in case either of the operators leaves and any other future pedicab operator applies for a permit.

Council members asked the operators to accept the ordinance in its current form, which they did.

"We welcomed you, we embraced you," Councilman Stephen C. Waluk said. "It has just taken a long time."