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Pedi-cure may finally be in sight – as end looms for unregulated rickshaws

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

They are unmissable on a night out in London. Tourists gravitate towards them and authorities have little powers to stop them.

But if pedicabs have blighted London streets for well over a decade, that could all be about to change.

They are the only form of public transport to go unregulated in the capital, according to a Parliamentary handout. They’re also known to price-gouge customers, are uninsured and can be unsafe.

But a Bill is finally going through Parliament that aims to put an end to all that.

Westminster City council deputy leader Aicha Less said it isn’t fair pedicab drivers operate unregulated in London while other forms of transport, like taxis, do.

She said the council relies on a handful of laws, like the Control of Pollution Act 1974, to curb noisy pedicabs, but has nothing to regulate them and that the Met is stuck in the same position.

Up to now, legislating against pedicabs in the capital simply hasn’t been a priority, as it is not seen as a nationwide issue. “The [Government] don’t see it as a priority for them but it is for us,” said Ms Less.

Matt Panteli, from the central London business body Heart of London Business Alliance (HOLBA), said: “The reason, as we understand it, [has been] finding Parliamentary time for it.

“It’s been an issue a lot of our members raise, especially around Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. It’s just been going on and on and on, so the issues are well known. They’re blocking pedestrians walking around, they’re noisy, they’re always blasting out ABBA and also I think there are quite a few safety issues.”

Local MP Nickie Aiken said plans to regulate pedicabs were also shelved with Boris Johnson’s resignation as Prime Minister.

She said: “Boris Johnson was very, very supportive of getting pedicab regulation through. He had been Mayor of London, so he understood the issues.”

But now, the latest bill aimed at regulation has now gone through the House of Lords and will have its second reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The Pedicabs (London) Bill will allow TfL to set standards for operators and ensure drivers undergo criminal record and right-to-work in the UK checks, enable rogue drivers to be taken to court or fined, and force pedicabs to move if they are an obstruction.

Ms Aiken hopes the bill will come into force by mid-summer this year. With a fair wind, I think this could be up and running by July, fingers crossed.”

A Department of Transport spokesman said: “As with any legislation, set amounts of time must pass before moving to each new stage. Despite this, the Bill continues to make good progress through Parliament.”

Pictured top: Pedicabs are the only unregulated form of transport in London, according to a Parliamentary handout (Picture: WCC)

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