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New roadblocks for pedicabs?

New roadblocks for pedicabs?

Christian Blume (left) and Brendan Blume own a pedicab business in Wrigleyville. (RedEye photo)

Monday’s RedEye cover story about pedicab regulations definitely resonates here in Wrigleyville. Have you ever taken a ride in one? Here’s the story from reporter Leonor Vivanco:

Chicago pedicabs could face new roadblocks under a proposal to license and regulate the bike taxi industry.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward includes Wrigleyville—a pedicab hot spot—last month re-introduced an ordinance that would, among other things, keep operators away from downtown before 7 p.m. during the workweek and require pedicab companies to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

“I totally think we do need regulation and licensing and some control out there,” said Robert Tipton, owner of Chicago Rickshaw’s fleet of more than 20 pedicabs. But providing workers’ compensation to drivers would be too costly for companies to afford, he said. Paying for liability insurance would be an added expense for independent owner operators.

Problems stem from the industry going unchecked, Tipton said. Currently, some pedicab drivers carry liability insurance and others don’t use adequate braking systems. Uniform safety standards for pedicabs, its owners and drivers could level the playing field.

Chicago would follow other cities including New York, which began licensing pedicabs in 2009 after a pedicab crashed into a taxi, injuring the pedicab driver and passenger. At least two fatalities in the U.S. have been reported in pedicab accidents – one in Seattle in 2008 and another in San Diego in 2009.

Regulations for pedicabs, one of the city’s few unlicensed businesses, would safeguard the driver, owner and passenger, Tunney aide Bennett Lawson said. “We want to do it in a safe way that doesn’t put anybody out of business but before it becomes unmanageable.”

Read more: Pedal power – redeyechicago.com.


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