Cities of London & Westminster MP Nickie Aiken pens her first column for City Matters.
If you live in, work in, or frequently visit the West End, you’ll probably be familiar with the sight of pedicabs and rickshaws ringing their bells, playing their music, queuing and touting for fares to restaurants, bars, hotels and stations.
There are some good pedicab drivers who contribute to the amazing offer and experience of the West End, and they are enjoyed by some of the hundreds of thousands of visitors we receive. Many delivery companies are also using pedicabs which is helping to improve our air quality.
However, there are too many complaints from local people and businesses about noise and anti-social behaviour, they are not subject to any official checks on their safety, and they are exempt from regulations that cover taxis and private hire vehicles.
That’s why I introduced a Bill to Parliament on the regulation of pedicabs, and I’m pleased that it has passed its first reading.
I’ve been working on this issue since my time as leader of Westminster Council – we regularly received complaints from local people on issues ranging from pedicabs blocking pavements to drivers playing loud music at night.
The problem is pedicabs are currently exempt from the regulations that cover taxi and private hire services. They do not need a licence to operate, are allowed to set their own prices and do not require any form of insurance.
This leaves passengers and other road users without protection if they are unlucky enough to be in an accident involving a pedicab.
Pedicabs are also not subject to any official checks on the safety and ability of their drivers nor the road worthiness of vehicles. Proper regulation, as outlined in my Bill, would resolve these issues.
And now that Covid has occurred, it’s vital pedicabs are subject to good cleanliness and hygiene standards to keep drivers and passengers safe.
Let me be clear – this is not about banning pedicabs, it’s about making them safer and bringing standards in line with taxis. I recognise that there is a growing number of delivery companies using pedicabs in central London which I welcome as we strive to improve air quality.
We have a window of opportunity to get these regulations in place now, before people start returning to the West End after Covid.
If you agree with me, please back my Bill by visiting www.nickieaiken.org.