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Pedicab Industry Wants New Rules to Crack Down on 'Cowboy' Drivers

By Amy Zimmer | February 17, 2011 5:32pm

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MIDTOWN — A group representing pedicab owners is not only embracing proposed legislation regulating the industry, but is also asking for further rules to weed out the bad seeds on the road.

Bike rickshaws would have to follow the same parking rules of cars, would have to display a passengers bill of rights and face tougher penalties — a yearlong operator's license suspension — for repeated violations, under legislation introduced by City Councilman Dan Garodnick, who represents the East Side.

"We wanted to show Dan Garodnick an unambiguous show of support," said Chad Marlow, of the New York City Pedicab Owners Association, which plans to speak in favor of the rules at Friday's City Council hearing on the industry overhaul.

"We think he's genuinely concerned about our industry and that gives us confidence in these rules," Marlow said.

The new rules are sure to ruffle some feathers, especially from pedicab drivers who would no longer be able to wait in no standing zones in front of theaters. Marlow hopes the city will end up creating even more rules at some point to deal with these issues by creating designated pedicab pickup spots.

He also hopes to see rules that can weed out the "group of drivers out there who are small but not insignificant" who come during the summer "from Mexico, Florida, Timbuktu or wherever" and rack up fines with little regard before leaving New York.

"They come from out of New York or the U.S. and get a stack of tickets. They don't care," said Klye Elauannas, of Fox International Pedicab. "For people living overseas, they just get their license translated and go to [the Department of Consumer Affairs]. It would be different if they had a driver's license from the Tri-State area."

They have a "cowboy attitude," said pedicab operator John McIntosh, 59, of these drivers he said often came from Turkey and Central Asia.  He thought a bill of rights would be helpful in preventing them from "taking advantage of customers."

McIntosh didn't mind paying $2 to park in a spot like a car, but he would rather see designated spaces on corners for pedicabs where potential riders can easily spot them. "You have to be on a corner," he said.

Pedicab driver Ismael Oz, 40, hoped the new parking rules would clarify for law enforcement where they're allowed to be. He said he has gotten slapped with 35 tickets worth over $1,200 last year and many were unjustified.

Ron Paterson, who runs NYC Go Green Tours of pedicabs in Central Park, wanted to see legislation go further and require pedicab drivers who give tours be licensed guides. "We see people not giving legit tours. It's just some guy who's been here a couple of months."

Garodnick's office has received several complaints, including one from a tourist who had an eight-minute pedicab ride that cost $90.

"These are rules which are designed to promote more safety and to ensure that pedicab riders are not getting taken for a ride," Garodnick said. "It also clarifies some rules, creates some new ones and toughens the penalties for people repeatedly putting riders and pedestrians at risk."