New York City Council to Consider Licensing Procedure for Pedicabs

Anyone walking the streets of Manhattan is aware of the prevalence of pedicabs, pedal-powered tourist-friendly tricycles. Pedicab owners estimate that there were about 1,000 pedicabs in the city. But what if someone suffers personal injuries while a passenger in one or is involved in an accident with one? Who will pay for the injuries and damage caused?

New York State has financial responsibility requirements for motor vehicles and motorcycles. Not so for pedicabs. In an effort to change that, the city will move forward with its long-stalled regulation of pedicabs by establishing a licensing procedure. Licenses would be issued to pedicab owners who provide proof of ownership and insurance, and whose vehicles pass a safety examination.

The bill would require pedicabs to display a fare card, owner information and contacts so passengers can file complaints. Owners of the pedal-powered cabs would have a 60-day window to register with the city. The city’s first attempt at regulating the industry was in 2007, when the city insisted on limiting to 325 the number of licenses it would issue. Pedicab owners protested the license limit and sued. The licensing cap is not part of the present plan. Safety laws enacted in 2007 including the requirement of seat belts, turn signals and emergency brakes have not been enforced.

A few weeks ago, a pedicab collided with a taxi at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, injuring the pedicab driver and two passengers. The city said it would be powerless to enforce a rule making it illegal for pedicabs to travel on bridges until a licensing procedure could be established. The proposal must wind its way through the legislative review process, so enforcement may still be a few weeks or months away.

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