New York City officials and bicycle taxi owners have agreed on licensing and safety requirements that will resolve a years-long tussle over regulating the pedal-powered cabs, both sides announced Sunday.
Legislation formalizing the pact is expected soon. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement it would “ensure that pedicab passengers get a safe ride.”
Bicycle taxis, which resemble giant tricycles with passenger carriages in the back, have become popular with tourists and some residents since first appearing on city streets in the mid-1990s. They are subject to traffic rules regarding bicycles, but the regulations announced Sunday would add requirements for licenses, insurance and inspections.
“It's like the Wild West out there,” said Councilman Dan Garodnick, saying the regulations would protect not only pedicab drivers and passengers but passers-by.
The agreement came after a judge struck down regulations arising from a 2007 effort to cap the number of bicycle taxis citywide at 325, paring a fleet that had been estimated at 600. Pedicab owners said the limited number of licenses would drive some of them out of business, especially because people who didn't yet own pedicabs were allowed to apply.
The new plan wouldn't cap the number of licenses. Instead, it would give anyone interested 60 days to apply for a pedicab license. That would be the only application opportunity for at least 18 months.
To get a license, bicycle taxi owners would have to have insurance and pass an inspection of the vehicles' seat belts, brakes, turn signals and other safety features. Pedicab drivers would have to get separate licenses, though they wouldn't be subject to the 60-day limit.
The New York City Pedicab Owners' Association, which opposed the earlier licensing rules, is “thrilled” with the new agreement, said Chad Marlow, a lawyer for the group.