Ros Morgan: End of road for rogue London pedicabs can’t come too soon

Ros Morgan: End of road for rogue London pedicabs can’t come too soon

Pedicabs are a menace to London’s streets. They put lives at risk, disturb people with incessant music, and their operators often charge excessive amounts for short journeys. It was therefore a relief to hear His Majesty King Charles III say at the recent state opening of Parliament that the “scourge of unlicensed pedicabs” would be dealt with through legislation. In even better news, the Pedicabs (London) Bill has begun its journey towards becoming law.

This is not before time. Current laws governing pedicabs date back to the 1800s and the Heart of London Business Alliance, which represents over 600 businesses and property owners in Piccadilly, St James’s, Haymarket, St Martin’s and Leicester Square, has been calling for their regulation for the best part of a decade.

The vehicles have, for years, been excused as harmless fun for but West End businesses see them as a major issue and a real nuisance. They discourage people from visiting the area, and take advantage of some who do. There are far too many well-documented cases of pedicab drivers charging passengers ludicrous sums.

Not only are they fleecing tourists, they are also making the West End’s streets less safe. We have no idea if the drivers or their vehicles are fit to carry people. Most pedicabs ignore the Highway Code and block pavements. Westminster City Council’s slogan of this time last year said it best: “Be careful what you get into.”

Local MP Nickie Aiken has been a vocal champion for the cause, and her hard work culminated in the King’s Speech breakthrough. The Bill should be enacted before the next general election. However, we must not rest on our laurels, as we have been burned before.

A similar announcement was made in the final Queen’s Speech last May, but the measure was kicked into the long grass before making any progress. Tighter controls on these unruly vehicles cannot come soon enough.

This is not about banning pedicabs altogether. What we have long called for is a level playing field with other types of private hire vehicles to ensure the highest standards for them all. We look forward to working with Transport for London and the Department for Transport to ensure that the legislation does just that.

Some pedicab operators have taken action in recent years and run their fleets responsibly, but time ought to be up on those linked to unscrupulous and unsafe behaviour, unwanted touting and excessive fares.

Ros Morgan is chief executive of the Heart of London Business Alliance (HOLBA). Follow HOLBA on X/Twitter. Photograph: Westminster Council. If you value On London and its coverage of the capital, become a supporter or a paying subscriber to Dave Hill’s personal Substack for just £5 a month or £50 a year. In return, you’ll get a big, weekly London newsletter and offers of free tickets to top London events.

Categories: Comment

1 Comment

  1. Raymond Attfield says:

    Ok that’s good news and one small step toward the re-civilising of London streets.

    The next step, and for many over a much wider area, is the now menacing behaviour of cyclists, ie those who assume the right to cycle at speed on any part of the road and more frequently now on pavements and public squares.

    Add to this the increasing use of electric bikes and the litter of hire bikes, and pedestrians no longer have any secure right to any public space.

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