If you’re travelled to New York recently, you may have noticed a slew of tourist-toting pedicabs pedalling around the city. And although at first glance you may charmed by these anti-engine vehicles, the often confusing and sometimes outrageous rates may have you hopping in a traditional cab instead.
Complaints have been swirling around New York’s pedicab business, with citizens calling on the city’s government to reign in and regulate the tricycle taxis that have cropped up in recent years.
So that’s why this week’s move by the city’s mayor (that seemingly sides with pedicab drivers) has many people scratching their heads.
Michael Bloomberg has reportedly hit the brakes on a proposal to keep pedicab drivers from charging exorbitant rates. The plan was up for Bloomberg to consider signing on Wednesday. But the Associated Press (AP) reports that after a pedicab driver complained that the city was unfair to the pedal-powered cabs, Bloomberg said he wanted “to find out a little more” about the proposal.
“I’ve always thought, in this city, people want pedicabs, and there’s been discrimination against pedicab drivers from day one,” said Bloomberg, who was quoted on AP.
The mayor has always been a fan of pedicabs, praising them as an environmentally-friendly transportation and tourist attraction rolled into one.
“That’s not to say there shouldn’t be adequate protections against people gouging,” Bloomberg added.
The mayor has said he’ll announce by Friday whether he’ll sign the measure.
About 700 pedicabs now adorn city streets, according to the New York City Pedicab Owners’ Association.
The vehicles look like enormous tricycles with a carriage in the back that can load up to three passengers at a time. They can usually be spotted at Manhattan landmarks popular with tourists – like Central Park and Times Square.
AP reports that most pedicab drivers charge by city block and per passenger. Some add surcharges and fees, and riders can reportedly find themselves facing unexpectedly steep bills at the end. The news agency references one notorious example: A Texas family this summer paid $442 for a 14-block ride.
Last month, City Council voted unanimously to require pedicab drivers to charge by the minute, with the timer clearly visible.
But AP reports that some critics say the measure won’t standardize fares because drivers pedal at different speeds. One suggestion is to have drivers give passengers a total, in writing, before the ride.