Pedicab Owners Lobby For More Regulation
Thomas Richards and is pedicab at Trade and Tryon, Uptown Charlotte. Photo: Marshall Terry. If you've been Uptown recently, you may have noticed a pedicab. You know, those three-wheeled bikes that look kind of like rickshaws. Thomas Richards is part owner of the R & R Pedicab Company. "It's definitely a good work out," Richards says. "But when it's all said and done, after a few weeks you get used to it." He's giving me a ride around while discussing his concerns over the future of his business. R & R is one of at least four pedicab companies in the city. But whenever a big event happens uptown - like a concert or a Panthers game, - the amount of competition increases says Richards, who stops for a moment to catch his breath. "We've had some people come in that for lack of a better word are 'gypsies,' where they'll go from city to city depending on the event and operate for 3 or 4 days in a city they have no clue about," Richards says. Noah Tagles owns Cycle Taxi USA, another Charlotte pedicab company. "These same guys, they travel around and do the same events that we do," Tagles says. Tagles also has a license to operate in Pittsburgh, and he says he's seen the same renegade operators in both cities. Richards and Tagles say these "gypsy" peidcab operators don't adhere to safety standards like regular equipment checks and making sure they have insurance for both the driver and passengers. "It's only going to take one pedicab to get into an accident that doesn't have insurance," Richards says. "And whether it's a fatality or not, God forbid, if somebody get hurts, the city is going to say 'why did this happen, how did this happen? And why wasn't this pedicab driver, this pedicab company isnusred?'" He and Tagles both have insurance for their drivers and passengers, even though the city doesn't require them to have it. They want that to change. The two have teamed up to form the Charlotte Pedicab Association to lobby for more regulation, like an insurance requirement. They also want the city to actually enforce the pedicab codes that already exist: abiding by all traffic rules and having adequate brakes and lights. Tagles says he often sees pedicabs uptown breaking the law. The city's committee on public safety will look at those concerns this fall. For now, Richards and Tagles are focusing on the Democratic National Convention and the surge in customers - and outsider pedicabs - that will be Uptown.