Pedicab drivers around the mall claim Park Police is harassing them, and some think it’s because a tour company is pressuring police to shoo away the unwanted competition.
Robert Hart drives a pedicab on the mall, chauffeuring customers, like the Dixons from St. Louis, around the monuments.
“I don't like to have to walk long distances and this is really fun. It goes really fast and you get there very easily,” said Rhiannon Dixon.
Hart said he feels targeted by Park Police, citing one recent incident with two disabled passengers. “A policeman came up and ordered them off the bike and threatened to arrest me for having them on the bike, and he claimed pedicabs were illegal on the Mall,” Hart said.
They say they're shooed out of parking spots, cited for soliciting. Pedicabs are not regulated here, so no one seems to know if there are any rules. Most of the drivers rent their cabs from three main companies and operate independently, setting their owns fares.
“It's very frustrating because I hate feeling like a criminal when I'm just trying to make some money,” said pedicab driver Jessica Eberlin.
They feel they’re being treated unfairly while regular bicyclists do not face such scrutiny. Park Police cite safety, telling us pedicabs have no safety equipment like seat belts. Very few have lights or reflectors and they're blocking roadways.
Drivers counter that most of them have lights and blinkers, and claim there's never been an accident.
Tourmobile claims to have exclusive rights to soliciting for tours and transport on the mall. Some drivers allege the company is pressuring Park Police to push the pedicabs out. Tourmobile did not return repeated calls seeking comment.
Pedicab drivers have started a petition in protest.