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Cabbies against cycles

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Monday 24 January 2005 1.06pm

Has anyone noticed the huge advert against the rikashaw/bicycles operating around the West End?
It's displayed on the approach over London Bridge to the station, shows a car and a rikshaw colliding and the text "why wait? ban now!"

Perhaps the LTDA should have shown a black cab instead of a regular car colliding with the cycle.
I've never used a rikshaw, but I think they are fine and much better than the smelly diesel cabbies polluting our city - ok, all cabbies reading these, give me a (verbal) beating now!

Monday 24 January 2005 1.18pm
I think the advert is solely aimed at rickshaws, not bicycles in general.

Personally I think they are a bit of a pain.

They are not targeted at providing transport, they are there pitching entertainment for tourists (not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but it's not infrastructure). The fares are significantly higher per mile than cabs, and the effective range obviously limited.

The riders want to find customers and therefore often park in groups in the middle of pedestrian bottlenecks. The area around Covent Garden tube is a good example.

If they were limited to sensible choices of pick up points and roads (i.e. ones wide enough for cars to get past) they might be less of a pain. Pretty much everyone else in the West End wanting ply their trade is covered by some form of regulation aimed at protecting the neighbourhood, the customers etc - these guys seemed to be completely under the radar, which doesn't seem right.

(I'm not a car driver or cab driver - pedestrian and occasional cyclist).
Monday 24 January 2005 1.30pm

I used to be (once upon a time) a socialist. And I still have lots of left-of-centre leanings (buy the Guardian, think we should increase taxes for better public services, believe in a strong interventionist state etc..)


Socialism would never have invented cycle-rickshaws and I like them.. Yes, of course, they are pricey, limited (in many ways), and I might ad, I think not very attractive. But, I still like them. They just seem fun. Tourists like them, and having been on one (once) they are a laugh to be in. Of course some safety regulation should be imposed if it isn't already - but I think they should stay and I think that other central London (and let's be honest, we are only talking about a small part of Central London) drivers should just be more careful.

In fact, if this job gets any more boring today, I might just join them.

Monday 24 January 2005 2.04pm

Yup, in some ways I do agree with you, though I still think closing down a few streets in Central London for motorised traffic (same as Covent Garden) would be a great idea....
Yes, the rickshaws should be licensed in some (simple) way and include insurance.... but they have made London more colourful, so let's keep 'em.

Monday 24 January 2005 2.48pm
AFAIK, the only real objection that cabbies have is that rickshaws (and their drivers) are unlicensed and uninsured (i.e. if you have an accident with one - or even trying to avoid one - then you will have to bear the costs yourself, regardless of who was at fault).

IMO, these are perfectly reasonable grounds to object. Other than that (and possibly the question of whether you should pay road tax if you are a private hire vehicle), then IMO they should be free to go about their business.

The point about blocking the roads is IMO irrelevant, as (properly behaved) cyclists have as many rights as any other road user.

...if you press it, they will come.
Monday 24 January 2005 5.19pm
>The point about blocking the roads is IMO irrelevant, as (properly behaved) cyclists have as many rights as any other road user.

Fair point - but I think they shouldn't be touting for business by riding into/parking in busy pedestrian areas. That's not properly behaved.
Monday 24 January 2005 5.39pm
and they certainly shouldn't be parked on the pavement, and in the bus lane, outside of Hamleys on Regent St. That area is busy enough already (with parents and kids going in and out of Hamleys) without the added annoyance of those bike taxi things with ringing bells - we know you're there, you don't need to ring the bell!
Tuesday 25 January 2005 9.28am

...if you press it, they will come.
Wednesday 26 January 2005 4.19pm
I saw an article about this at the end of last year:

The Economist, Nov 4th 2004

Last stand of the rickshaw drivers

PEDICABS, as London's bicycle rickshaws like to be known, are a
lively addition to the streetscape. Over short distances, they are
quicker and cheaper than black cabs; on rainy days, they are much better
than walking. Business has boomed since they started in London in
1998: there are now more than 250.

But nobody knows quite how many--or indeed anything much about
the industry. The pedicabs are in a legal limbo. As vehicles, they
count as bicycles, which are very lightly policed. As passenger carriers,
they count, bizarrely, as stagecoaches. So long as they negotiate
different fares for each passenger and journey, they can operate without
further regulation.

That sounds idyllic, but it isn't. London's formidable black
taxis, which enjoy a lucrative near monopoly over plying for hire on
the capital's streets, hate the interlopers and want to ban them.

They first tried attacking the stagecoach loophole. That failed
last year, after a long and costly legal battle. Now they are using
their political clout to have the London authorities squeeze them out
of business.

Transport for London, the municipal body in charge of all the
capital's comings and goings, has put forward for consultation a draft
bill that would fix the pedicabs' legal status as motor vehicles. They
would be banned from bus lanes (which black cabs are allowed to use) and
be liable for parking tickets if they stop in the street, or fines
if they wait on the pavement. That would be a disaster, say pedicab
operators such as Chris Smallwood, of the not-for-profit Bugbugs: "It will
put pedicabs out of business for ever and be an absolute victory for
the taxi drivers."

The consultation period for the bill is just two weeks. If the
pedicabs survive that, they then face another bout of regulation next
year, which plans to regulate them like minicabs: drivers, for
example, will have to pass a criminal records check.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association insists that the pedicabs
are dangerous and unsightly. It has commissioned research from the
Transport Research Laboratory, a highly-regarded expert outfit,
which, it says, proves that pedicabs offer no protection in the event
of a collision, and have inadequate brakes.

Mr Smallwood, who set up Bugbugs as a job-creation charity,
points out that the pedicabs' hunting ground is a part of London "where the
traffic is hardly moving". He and the other big pedicab
operators, who rent their vehicles to freelance drivers for around GBP85 a
week, say they are not against regulation--indeed they have been asking
for it for years. They want their drivers to be able to charge fixed
fares, which would be transparent and attract customers fearful of
being ripped off. And mandatory insurance and licensing would weed out
rogue operators with rickety, ill-lit vehicles. But such talk of
licensing infuriates the taxi mafia: better to ban competition than risk
it thriving.
Monday 31 January 2005 2.07pm
I have to admit, I really have no time for black cab drivers.

Rant deleted, was pretty boring anyway

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 31 January 2005 2.09pm by paul_se1.
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