City Council Set To Vote on Pedicabs, New Regs Will Crush Industry

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 sponsor took his name off it and another cosponsor has done the same.

Intro 331-A has become so twisted by amendments that will dramatically limit the number of pedicabs and where they operate that original sponsor Council Member Allan Gerson and Council Member Tony Avella have taken their names off the legislation. The bill as originally drafted contained regulations that would have brought stability to the pedicab industry, things like requirements for lights, insurance, safety belts, and other standards. These regulations have been sought by professional and responsible pedicabers for years. But through amendments entered by Quinn and the Mayor's administration the bill will effectively crush the nascent industry.

At the top of the list of bad policy in this bill are a city wide cap on total pedicabs:325, and the right of the police to ban pedicabs from any street for 14 days at will, and all of midtown for the 7 weeks during the holiday period. Which means the pedicabs may be banned from the midtown area during the Thanksgiving-Christmas season right when they are most useful for alleviating congestion. There are a number of other terrible terrible additions that have been made to this bill and they represent the phony intent of the Mayor's PlaNYC2030 program and self interest of the City Council Speaker as she angles for financial support from the Taxi Medallion owners.

Here is laundry list of ill-conceived regulations that were put into this legislation:

  • Cap of 325 Pedicab bikes
    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, will instantly result in lost 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.

  • This cap will promote the following:
    • establishment of a medallion system
    • the rise of rental rates
      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.

  • Police may designate any streets as "congested" and ban pedicabs from those streets for 2 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.

  • A huge 2 million dollar insurance policy required, plus $4,000 fines
    Yellow cabs need only $350,000

  • 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.


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