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Tory MP claims pedicabs have turned parts of London into the “Wild West”

A bill to regulate pedicabs in London had its second-reading in the House of Commons and has drawn unanimous support from MPs

At a second reading of a bill at the House of Commons to begin the regulation of pedicabs in London, a Conservative MP has claimed that the pedal-powered cabs are turning parts of London into the “Wild West”, although all MPs unanimously agreed that strict regulation of the pedicabs was “much-needed”.

The news comes as tourists using the neon-illuminated, faux-fur draped rickshaws have been reportedlycharged hundreds of pounds for journeys as short as just 10 minutes.

MPs asserted that pedicabs were the only mode of public transport to be unregulated in the city, with Labour MP Simon Lightwood saying that pedicabs have been able to operate for decades illegally in London due to loopholes, and called it a “desperately overdue” bill.

The Bill would allow for the regulation of the vehicles for the first time, including licensing, what fares operators can charge; safety and roadworthiness, and speed restrictions.

The idea to crack down on the vehicles was floated around for the first time in 2012, by then Mayor of London Boris Johnson. He said that the unlicensed vehicles were a “menace”, causing a hazard to other road users including cyclists, and he would “ban them if he had the power”.

Currently, it is estimated there can be up to 900 pedicabs operating during peak tourism season in the capital. However, there are concerns that many lack basic safety features and can cause traffic problems, such as parking in bus lanes or flouting one-way rules.

> London pedicab cyclist told to repay £180 fare charged for three-minute journey

Tory MP Nickie Aiken, representing the Cities London of Westminster, said that it is time that pedicabs in London were “regulated as black cabs are, as Ubers are and as private hire vehicles are”, telling MPs: “Parts of my constituency including Soho, Covent Garden, Marylebone and Fitzrovia can become like the Wild West, it becomes the Wild West End at times because of the sheer numbers of pedicabs on the street.”

She also said that pedicab operators have been found to be “unfit” drivers, or to be wanted for criminal charges.

“Drivers and vehicles must be safe. And there have been too many instances when there have been police operations and operations in conjunction with the Westminster City Council, that we have found drivers who are unfit to be taking passengers.

“Whether they are wanted for serious crimes, whether it’s sexual violence crimes, I believe one person was actually found wanted for murder,” she said.

London pedicabs (Soho Police/Twitter)

Previously, Aiken was accused of “spreading lies” on social media and of neglecting her “position of responsibility” by failing to focus on the safety of cyclists in the city to “score political points”, after she reposted a Daily Mail story on the removal of the phoenix palm tree at Lambeth Bridge, when in reality the famous tree was only being relocated to make London’s “most dangerous junction safer for road users”.

> MP duped by Daily Mail article claiming famous palm tree will be “chopped down” to make way for cycle lanes gets corrected by London’s cycling commissioner

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Guy Opperman added that the Bill would mean “people can have trust” in the pedicab industry, and also that “rogue actors” would be prevented from operating. He said in some cases pedicab operators were “abusing tourists” and “ripping people off”.

He told the Commons: “Some of the worst examples include a tourist charged more than £450 for a seven-minute, 1.3-mile journey with their two children, another charged £500 for a 10-minute journey between Mayfair and Soho, and one hit with a £180 bill for a three-minute journey.”

Two years ago, we reported that the pedicab cyclist who charged two women a £180 fare for a simple three-minute trip had been ordered to repay the extortionate charge by police.

The women, who took a ride with an unregulated operator, were told the journey would cost £18, but were faced with an extra zero and a £180 bill when they came to pay.

Opperman added: “We need a situation where a tourist to London should step into one of the pedicabs and they should not face a risk of an unauthorised – or inappropriate is a better way to put it – fare, an unlicensed driver who has had no background checks and a vehicle potentially with no safety standards. That sadly has been the case on a fairly regular basis.”

> Metropolitan Police seize nine London pedicabs fitted with motors

Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park Sarah Olney also supported the bill, although she also pointed out the benefits pedicabs can serve if they are regulated properly.

“I wholeheartedly welcome this legislation. I hope to see the development of pedicab industry across London providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities as well as a safe, affordable and carbon-free form of transport, especially for those who are unable to utilise other forms of active travel,” she said.

Olney gave the instance of pedicabs stepping in to serve the community while Hammersmith Bridge was closed off to motor traffic to drive home her point.

> Richmond Park's Lib Dem MP blames Tory Government for “effectively decriminalising bike theft”

She told MPs: “Despite continued promises since 2019, Hammersmith Bridge has still not been fixed. However, adversity breeds innovation. My innovative constituency in Barnes hasn't sat by passively while being let down by the government. In 2021, a temporary pedicab service was put in place in Barnes for six months that it was operational.

“This scheme carried 9,000 people over the Thames. It was a lifeline for those members of the constituency who couldn’t access hospitals and shops while the bridge was closed. This demonstrated that there is demand for transport across Hammersmith Bridge beyond cycling and walking, especially amongst older people and people who have limited mobility.

“Should this legislation pass, I urge ministers to work with TfL to create a new pedicab service across the bridge that could serve as a model for other schemes in London.”

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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25 comments

Avatar
levestane | 1 month ago
2 likes

Wild West! Does that mean the indiginous locals are being sent to reserves to fall victim to stange diseases etc?

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Ladywriter | 1 month ago
2 likes

Wild west end ??? Must be a Dire Straits fan !!! 

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Gus T | 1 month ago
3 likes

In Hull private hire drivers need a current licence and a DBS check, the sole pedicab operator was also required to have passed level 5 Bikability. So the least dangerous mode of travel had the strictest rules applied to them. Pricing was the same for both.

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NOtotheEU | 1 month ago
12 likes

London always reminds me of the Wild West every time I read about the gangs of armed criminals relieving cyclists of their expensive bikes seemingly with impunity or the dodgy individuals the Met seem to think are suitable police officers but apparently it's the pedicabs 🤔

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don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
16 likes

Voter says tories have turned westminster into corruption capital of the world.

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chrisonabike replied to don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
4 likes

Voter would be correct in perceiving that people think there's more these days (with some stand-out examples).  But if comparing with others needlessly pessimistic.  We're joint 20th and there is a lot of depth beneath us...

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don simon fbpe replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago
7 likes

Surely once all the investigations have finished, we'll be... what was it Matt the liar and adulterer Hancock used to gaslight us with? ...Ah yes... World beating!

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Dnnnnnn replied to don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
0 likes

Which investigations do you mean, specifically?

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don simon fbpe replied to Dnnnnnn | 1 month ago
11 likes

The ones that should be happening to uncover the corruption of the tory party. Michelle Mone would be one, Dido Harding and the missing £billions should be another, and while we're there we could look at Sunak's share dealings and licience gifting. The appointment of Charlotte owen to HoL, Boris's benefactor in the purchase of his house, the Russian connections, etc. Should I Google for more corruption.

The HS2 land sell off.

All the other VIP PPE disasters.

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Dnnnnnn replied to don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
3 likes

Yep, certainly some of them have cases to answer. Cronyism is a big problem, even it's not intentional corruption - our leaders are drawn from much too narrow a pool. Sadly, too many the electorate don't seem to mind that if they have messy hair, a faux bumbling manner and seem a bit of a laugh.

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chrisonabike replied to Dnnnnnn | 1 month ago
2 likes

Au contraire!  Certainly certain universities and public schools are over-represented.  But I think the "narrow pool" they're drawn from is overall more one of a certain kind of "ambition".  Not necessarily for getting all the cash, a la Trump - but being able to "help out" people for consideration, certainly.  And while there are the odd Corbyn / beast of Bolsover types, they rather tend to be "intensely relaxed" about getting financial rewards.

Probably not startling that some seem to see Parliament as more of an aid to business than a job in itself, so much so they're indignant when challenged on this.

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don simon fbpe replied to Dnnnnnn | 1 month ago
10 likes

It's kind of funny, in a desperately sad kind of way, but I used to socialise with people who attended some of the top UK schools. A local school is definitely in the top 100, and top in the Northwest, depending on the lists you read. One of my closest friends attended a private school, I was almost sent to one and in no way am I making a generalisation of people that attend private/independent schools. People like johnson did attend this kind of school. The total and utter disdain they have people outside their little world is incredible. They are not your friends, they do not have your interests at heart, the hand shaking and back slapping is pure show. The Sarah Atherton's of this world are simply being used as a tool to maintain the power for the few who genuinely believe that they are better than us. Racist 30p Lee is being used. The people like johnson, sunak, gove, hancock (who went to said local independent school) osborne, cameron et al would not be seen dead at a private function with many of these "conservative" MPs. They are utter scum. Do not get sucked in by them, they are using you.

EDIT: If you thought that Cameron wasn't the sort of chap to fuck a pig, don't Google "soggy biscuit" on a works computer.

Rant over and not really connected to the story... smiley

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eburtthebike replied to don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
3 likes

don simon fbpe wrote:

Rant over and not really connected to the story... smiley

Oh, I think it was close enough.

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eburtthebike replied to don simon fbpe | 1 month ago
4 likes

don simon fbpe wrote:

The ones that should be happening to uncover the corruption of the tory party. Michelle Mone would be one, Dido Harding and the missing £billions should be another, and while we're there we could look at Sunak's share dealings and licience gifting. The appointment of Charlotte owen to HoL, Boris's benefactor in the purchase of his house, the Russian connections, etc. Should I Google for more corruption.

The HS2 land sell off.

All the other VIP PPE disasters.

An excellent start, but there are many more tory rocks with nasty things underneath them: Teeside for instance.

A comprehensive list would be hard to compile, as they keep adding to it every day.

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don simon fbpe replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
3 likes

They were just off the top of my head and rattled off, plently more to go for, indeed Teeside land deals, dodgy donations, BBC appointments, various lapses of memory during questions, Robert Jenrick, non-dom tax loopholes, Owen Paterson, using tax payer money to pay Patel's bullying case and johnson's legal bills, johnson's holidays, Zahawi tax dodging (and expecting tax payers to pay for the heating for his horses), any tory MP abusing the expenses system, Dories employing family members, Johnny Minge for the same, Peter Hain, various other cash for access scandals, the giving of public money to buy DUP, Greensill.

Feel free to add anything else, I've kept away from the sexual scandals which tories also seem to be skilled at.

I'm gobsmacked that none of our resident right whingers have come along to defend the tories. Is it possible that this shitload of theft and corruption would need a cat so big and so dead that it would have several postcodes?

Just for clarification, I fucking hate the tories (all of them, because by voting tory, your accepting this shite!).

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thereverent | 1 month ago
2 likes

Regulation has been needed for years, but the Taxi trade have always lobbied agains regulation (eg https://www.standard.co.uk/hp/front/taxis-hail-victory-as-rickshaw-licen...).

 

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Simon E replied to thereverent | 1 month ago
3 likes

thereverent wrote:

Regulation has been needed for years, but the Taxi trade have always lobbied agains regulation (eg https://www.standard.co.uk/hp/front/taxis-hail-victory-as-rickshaw-licen...).

Licensing commercial vehicles makes sense.

But there are masses of unlicensed drivers and uninsured (~1 million) / untaxed vehicles and/or with expired MOT on the road. Can we get someone to deal with those too?

People like Elliott Nash, who killed 54 year old Matthew Mawdsley killed in a hit-and-run in Birmingham. In the trial last week the jury failed to deliver a verdict.

Or maybe 37 year old John Robinson, who has already been banned 6 times, was caught driving unlicensed and uninsured in Hartlepool after a police chase last month. He gets a pathetic 3 year ban and a 10-month suspended prison sentence.

The local media are saturated with similar stories, never mind all the ones who get away with it. But pedicabs are a far bigger problem, because an MP says so.

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pockstone | 1 month ago
12 likes

The wild west? So a bit like renting a house, getting a water, gas or electricity account, buying a train ticket, finding a dentist or getting a University education. All thanks to the tories.

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eburtthebike replied to pockstone | 1 month ago
3 likes

pockstone wrote:

The wild west? So a bit like renting a house, getting a water, gas or electricity account, buying a train ticket, finding a dentist or getting a University education. All thanks to the tories.

Came up in the pub last night: name one of Maggie's policies which has proved beneficial?

Nobody could.

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hawkinspeter replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
0 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

Came up in the pub last night: name one of Maggie's policies which has proved beneficial?

Nobody could.

Enterprise Allowance Scheme? Arguably it had unintended consequences of promoting artists/culture and it led to Britpop, Viz Magazine and Tracey Emin

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2023/jul/26/thatcher-enterprise-allowance-scheme-artists-rachel-whiteread-jarvis-cocker-britpop-ybas

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chrisonabike replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
1 like

Well - they're apparently attractive to politicians.  Both main parties (especially leaders) have riffed off that era.

There were also certainly popular ones.  A fair few people enjoyed the Falklands war (mostly the ones that didn't go or weren't related to them...).

Right to buy?  It was certainly a big hit at the time with many council house tenants.  So much so that Labour dropped their policy of opposition (albeit they said that they'd try to ensure that this was linked to continued provision if they got into power).

The negatives presumably would be dismissed as "outside the scope" of the bill.  At the very least there was a failure to grasp that people would still need council housing and ensure that the sell-off was coupled to replenishment.

Ultimately - as is almost always the case - those who already had (e.g. were in a position to speculate) benefitted the most.

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don simon fbpe replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
1 like

Beneficial to the general public or the tories?

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brooksby | 1 month ago
3 likes

Quote:

“Whether they are wanted for serious crimes, whether it’s sexual violence crimes, I believe one person was actually found wanted for murder,” she said.

Citation needed, I think…

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bobbinogs replied to brooksby | 1 month ago
0 likes

What, and let facts get in the way of a good soundbite??  Surely not!

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Boopop | 1 month ago
6 likes

Wait until they hear about Critical Mass. 30th Birthday anniverary ride on 14th of April by the way! 12PM @ the BFI.

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