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Pedicab Drivers Call Road Rules Bad For Business
They can get you around traffic in a hurry, and they’re a big part of the effort to keep Austin green.
Yet the city’s pedicab drivers say the road rules they’re expected to follow are bad for business.
There are more than 100 pedicab drivers in the city, and many residents say they are a vital form of alternative transportation.
The drivers said if the city doesn’t lift some of the restrictions on them, they may just be driven out of business.
Nathan Lipson’s workday is just beginning. His office just happens to be on four wheels.
“Pedicabs used to be on every single corner of Sixth Street,” said Lipson, owner of Metrocycle Pedicabs.
For a pedicab driver, that’s where the money is.
Lipson and others said it is getting harder to make money, because city code won’t allow the drivers to travel north and south on most streets that cross Sixth.
“That definitely does affect us negatively,” Lipson said. “It just basically forces us to never venture north past Sixth Street.”
Yet the drivers’ biggest gripe is the times they’re not allowed to work.
“We can’t ride in any of the rush hour traffic,” Lipson said.
“Heavy traffic during that period of time could cause some accidents,” said Steve Grassfield, Transportation Regulatory manager.
After some pedicab drivers raised concerns about the restrictions, Grassfield conducted an informal study of pedicabs downtown. He concluded that the rules should stay as they are.
“The main concern for us is the safety of our citizens, the pedicab drivers, the passengers in the pedicab,” Grassfield said.
City Transportation Commissioner Carl Tepper said he believes there should be a compromise.
“The city would like to be cleaner and greener, and of course since pedicabs don’t utilize any carbon footprint, so I think it’s important to a city like Austin to do this,” Tepper said.
“I do believe that we have to have some laws and some restrictions just to keep some level of order,” Lipson said.
Lipson said he just wants the city to loosen up.
Grassfield will present his recommendation to the Urban Transportation Commission on Dec. 11. Then the issue will go before the Austin City Council, and members will decide if current rules will stay in place or be lifted.