Good afternoon Chairman Comrie and members of the Consumer Affairs Committee. My name is David Snetman, and I am the Bicycle Campaign Coordinator for Transportation Alternatives, New York City's advocates for biking, walking and sensible transportation.
Transportation Alternatives is a longtime supporter of pedicabs in New York City, and we hope to see their safe use continue and grow. Pedicabs are an important part of tourism, transportation and small business in New York City. The industry provides hundreds of jobs for New Yorkers that help sustain the vitality of our city.
We are here to support many of the provisions in City Council Intro 75 and to comment on a few of them.
These are thorough regulations. We applaud their intent to improve public safety and regulate, and thus legitimize, a unique industry in New York City. We ask that the stated intent of Intro 75 be clarified to reflect its focus on commercial pedicab regulation and safety, and that it is not intended to regulate non-commercial pedicabs, pedi-cycles and bicycles.
As advocates for city-friendly, environmentally-sensible and healthful transportation, Transportation Alternatives is mindful that these regulations should not be a harbinger of restrictions on commercial pedicabs or of the further regulation of non-commercial pedicabs, pedi-cycles and bicycles, the operation and equipment of which are already regulated by New York City and State laws. Restrictions and further regulation would reduce the use of these clean, safe and quiet transportation options, and by doing so, increase the use of polluting, noisy and more dangerous modes of travel.
For any commercial pedicab regulations to improve safety, government agencies must carefully monitor and evaluate them, the regulation process and enforcement. This legislation must require the City agencies responsible for implementing it to file annual reports to the City Council and the public on commercial pedicab conditions, licenses, violations, summonses, crashes, injuries, fatalities and complaints. Annual reports will help ensure that these regulations are consistently implemented, enforced and followed by all commercial pedicab owners and operators. Otherwise, they may be followed by only a handful of responsible pedicab owners and fall by the wayside for others, forgotten about until a notable incident provokes government agencies to strictly enforce them and crackdown on all hardworking pedicab drivers and entrepreneurial owners.
Reporting will give City Council, the pedicab industry and the public insight into the effects these new regulations have on pedicabs, their owners, drivers, passengers and the travelling public, allowing the Council, City agencies, the industry and the public to work together and make informed adjustments to the regulations, the regulation process and their enforcement.
Transportation Alternatives supports Intro 75's regulation of the companies that own pedicabs, especially the requirements that they use pedicabs that pass safety inspections, have insurance and display identifying license plates on their vehicles. However, the requirement that pedicab operators must also have a special license issued by the City of New York is unnecessary. Pedicab drivers must follow traffic laws, and like anyone who violates traffic laws (regardless of whether or not they have a driver’s license) the NYPD can stop a lawbreaking or dangerous pedicab driver and issue him or her a traffic summons. It should be commercial pedicab owners’ responsibility to ensure that their operators are aware of and follow pedicab and traffic regulations. Thus, traffic enforcement and regulating commercial pedicab owners are the most efficient and effective ways to ensure the safe operation of commercial pedicabs.
The City's leading pedicab owners and operators have long sought commonsense regulations that would certify their responsible and safe operation. Such regulations will improve public safety, the pedicab business and the pedicab industry's relationship with government and the business sector.
Transportation Alternatives is encouraged that the City Council is working towards regulations that promote safe and the lawful use of pedicabs on all New York City streets. We hope that this Committee and the entire Council will continue to work with the pedicab owners’ association, the pedicabs operators association, advocates and the public to develop, implement, evaluate and fine-tune regulations that will promote the continued safe use of pedicabs in the city.
Pedicabs are good for the environment and the quality of life in New York City, they help people quickly get where they need to go, and they are a unique part of New York, helping to endear the city to tourists and New Yorkers alike.