London

Mayor Boris Johnson plans rickshaw ban for London

Rickshaw
Image caption Boris Johnson has been making the argument to ban pedicabs since December 2012

Mayor Boris Johnson has announced he wants to ban rickshaws in London to help ease traffic congestion.

He does not have the authority to do that so he is seeking government legislation for a pedicab ban.

He also wants to reduce the number of minicabs, a move the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association has welcomed.

It estimates there were 13,000 new private hire drivers in London in 2014 partly owing to the rise in popularity of cheaper car booking apps like Uber.

Mr Johnson has been making the argument to ban pedicabs since December 2012 because, he said: "Although there are a number of responsible pedicab companies, the fact is that these vehicles jam up the capital's roads and consistently fail to ensure the safety of their passengers."


Analysis by Tom Edwards, BBC London transport correspondent

On any night in the West End you can't miss the bells of Rickshaws (or Pedicabs as they are officially known) plying for trade.

While some tourists and the odd refreshed businessman seem to enjoy them, the authorities have wanted to get rid of them for a long time. While there are responsible operators, there is also a cowboy element where there are fears over safety and concerns over the amount they charge.

In 2002, I sat in court as the black cabbies tried and failed to get them banned. Pedicabs operate using a loophole in the metropolitan public carriage act 1869 and are classed as stage carriages not Hackney cabs and so can ply for hire. If the mayor wants them banned he will need to redo that legislation. That will take time and will probably involve legal challenges.


Transport for London (TfL) said there were 78,690 minicab drivers in London and over the past year that number had risen by 12,268.

Mr Johnson said: "We must be able to take action against the threat posed by the massive increase we are seeing in the number of private hire vehicles.

"There are only 25,000 black cabs and 8,000 buses in London and yet there are already over 75,000 minicabs and rising. We're starting to see a threat to free movement of traffic on the roads.

"We will also be seeking powers for TfL over pedicabs - which so far have been completely immune from regulation."

'Step too far'

Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross said action was needed to make rickshaws safer, but a complete ban was unnecessary.

"A blanket ban is a step too far," she said.

"What is needed is a much greater level of control, with just a limited number of licences given to operate for tourists in a small number of safe locations.

"If Londoners want to use them for their personal use that is their choice, but let's be clear that rickshaws should not be operating as taxis."

The Mayor is seeking to include the legislation in a London Bill in this year's Queen's speech.

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