Pedi cab regulations hope to ease tensions
Last year, ABC7 reported several stories about tension - and even some scuffles - between pedi cab drivers and police officers.
This year, the National Park Service hopes to avoid that—with new pedi cab regulations. Tuesday night, several drivers met with park service officials to discuss the proposed rules.
The D.C. Department of Transportation already has its own set of regulations for pedi cab operators—released last year. These draft regulations from the Park Service generally mirror those district regulations. But, there are a couple of additional requirements—including insurance coverage and limits on where pedi cabs can stop or park.
“I think it's a really important service. The mall is really big. People get really tired,” said pedi cab driver Jared Pearman.
On the National Mall, pedi cab drivers hope proposed National Park Service regulations will lead to better relations with park police officers.
We “get in a lot of trouble from park police when we decide to stop and pick up passengers, if we're waiting at certain spots along the mall,” said pedi cab driver Nathan Pierce.
But on the other hand, they don’t like being told where they can or can't stop.
“We stay in designated areas on the mall where we wait for people. And I think more regulation is probably going to be overkill,” Pearman said.
This draft plan designates specific routes, stops and parking locations for pedi cabs.
“We plan to put signage up. And we think it will actually enhance their business. We're going to educate our visitors about pedi cabs and where they can find them. And of course pedi cabs can stop anywhere and pick up passengers that are seeking their services,” said Park Service Superintendent Bob Vogel.
Some drivers worry the current map is not complete.
“There are some spots on the map that are not accounted for that is a little bit of a question,” said pedi cab driver Matthew Lubel.
Like the district government, these Park Service regulations also include a long list of safety features required on pedi cabs. But, in addition, to conduct business on the National Mall, drivers will need to apply for “commercial use authorizations," which require insurance coverage.
Policies can cost between $800 and $1000 per cab per year. So, some independent drivers are not happy. But, pedi cab companies seem to welcome the insurance requirement because they already have policies.
“We run a legit biz. We spend a lot of money on our insurance and our insurance premiums. And we want to be rewarded for it. And we're glad NPS is recognizes that if you're doing that you can operate and if you don't have insurance then you can't operate,” said Martin Rahmani of Capital Pedi Cabs.
Park Service Superintendent Bob Vogel says he hopes these regulations will be finalized very soon. Depending on how much of a response they get and how many changes they make—it could be released this summer.
Of course - unlike taxicabs – pedi cab rates are not regulated.
But the Park Service wants to require drivers to "negotiate all fares prior to departing on a trip,” along with a sign mounted on the bike saying as much so passengers can see it.