Rickshaw drivers argue that taxis deliberately drive too close to them and that taxis just fear the competition. However, there are claims that rickshaw operators jump lights, driver down the wrong way down one-way streets and tout aggressively for business.
A code of conduct is being planned for rickshaw riders agreeing to vehicle and personal safety checks and regulated fares by Westminster council.
It has been worrying cabbies that Rickshaws, also known as pedicabs, will be swarming the streets of London next year, as riders cash in on the Olympics. It is estimated that there are now about 600 in and around Soho, Covent Garden and the West End.
Unlike black cab drivers who have taxi insurance, rickshaw drivers are not licensed and no standards or checks apply to either driver or vehicle.
Leader of the RMT union, Bob Crow, who represents some black cab drivers, wants Transport for London (TfL) to take action. He said, “Alongside the threat to the livelihoods of our members, there is also the threat of serious injury to members of the public who have no idea that they are climbing into uninsured and unregistered vehicles”.
However, a rickshaw driver from Colombia, Oscar Borgas, said “If you drive carefully it’s very safe for customers. Not all rickshaw drivers are good – but not all cab drivers are good”.
TfL said that they are “working with the council and the Government in relation to the industry”. However, they also state that they have no legal powers to regulate pedicabs.
Under current regulations, rickshaws are not licensed because they are not classed as Hackney Carriages.
“We want to support the vibrancy of the West End, in which pedicabs can play their part but in safe fashion.” Councillor Lee Rowley, cabinet member for parking and transportation.