We’ve all seen them with their neon lights and pink fur-decorated seats or at the very least heard them blasting music from streets away, but Central London’s pedicab cyclists may soon face huge changes after a government crackdown on their regulation. This comes after the mention of plans for a new bill which will introduce a new licensing system for the carriages in King Charles’ first King’s speech in early November.
Pedicabs have been able to operate without regulation through a loophole in London’s taxi laws allowing them to be the only form of public transport that is not regulated by the government. They have been able to cycle without fare regulations, licences, and speed restrictions. The issue of overcharging fares has gotten so bad that reports of £20 rides are being charged for £200, and in July, the BBC reported that a tourist with two children was charged an eye-watering £464 for a 1.3-mile, seven-minute journey.
Minister for Roads and Local Transport Guy Opperman headed to pedicab hotspot Leicester Square on Sunday evening to witness first-hand how the pedicabs operate without much order. He said: “There was a very large collection of pedicabs at various locations. They were blocking the pavement. They were clearly creating obstruction. Clearly they’re uninsured. They’re unregulated. You can’t be sure who is driving them. There are widespread reports… of massive overcharging. This is an anomaly that needs fixing.”
A new proposed bill for the regulation of pedicabs is in its Report Stage where MPs are given the opportunity to suggest further changes to the bill before it reaches the following stage of the third reading before the bill is passed to the House of Commons. Opperman is hopeful that the new law will be passed by Spring 2024.
This is not the first time that the government has made an attempt to control rogue pedicabs on the streets of London, in fact, the new bill comes after decade-long efforts to impose rules but as this new bill focuses just on pedicabs, there’s more hope that it becomes a law. The proposed bill would allow Transport for London to charge for licences, set safety standards, control fare rates, apply speed restrictions, have background checks and hand out penalty fines to pedicabs cyclists.
Reports say many pedicab cyclists are welcome to legislation that would control fares and safety standards as they’ve been competing with cyclists that go rogue and don’t follow rules, making it more difficult for them to operate. The exact number of how many pedicabs are currently operating is unknown although research by the House of Commons Library estimates between 200 and 900 vehicles in London. Incidents over driver conduct have been reported over the years on road obstruction and sexual offences, along with crashes that have resulted in injuries.