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Councilmember Marti Emerald continues to be a driving force behind pedicab regulation reform in the city. Ever since 60-year-old tourist Sharon Miller died as a result of getting thrown from a pedicab on July 4, Emerald has slammed the brakes on what has grown into a seemingly unregulated and competitive industry. "We needed tougher regulations to protect the public, and now we have them," read Emerald's September 1 press release.

Emerald's release was issued minutes after city council placed new regulations on bicycle taxis. Those new requirements: all passengers must wear seat belts; bicycle taxis are banned from sidewalks and from streets with speed limits over 25 miles per hour. And, pedicab operators must display their rates inside the cabs in plain view of passengers.

Emerald doesn't plan to stop there. She wants to reduce the number of operator permits issued each year from 400 to 250 and plans to do so through the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee, which she chairs.

For several owners of pedicab businesses, the change has been long overdue.

Engin Kaplan started his pedicab business five years ago when he was 25 years old. Since then, Kaplan has witnessed San Diego's pedicab industry change gears, going from 200 bicycle cabs to what he estimates is now more than 600 citywide.

"The industry is out of control," says Kaplan. "If they regulate the number of permits, it will be a better business. Yes, I'll give up some of my business."

If Emerald is successful in reducing the number of pedicab permits issued by the City, Kaplan will go from 30 pedicabs to 12.

"That will hurt me, and damage my income, but it will be better for the industry. There are too many pedicabs now, too much competition. The reason some drivers overcharge is because they work all day, maybe six or eight hours, and they only give two or three rides. They can't survive off of 20 or 30 dollars."

As for the new regulations, the steepest hill for pedicab drivers to climb, says Kaplan, will be staying off roads with speed limits higher than 25 miles per hour.

"Sometimes, you have to use those roads in order to get your passengers to their destination. So, that law will have to be broken. We'll still have the Gaslamp, but if you need to go down Harbor Drive, it's going to be very tough on the drivers. We'll train the drivers, but if they don't obey the new rules then they'll get the ticket, not the company."

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poncheko Sept. 2, 2009 @ 3:56 p.m.

Just pull the f$%king trigger and get it over with!!


whyigotahaveid Sept. 3, 2009 @ 2:56 p.m.

i wish san diego would do somthing about clear channel owning all the radio stations in town. dosnt matter what station you switch to, they all playing the same song


Burbclaver Sept. 6, 2009 @ 9:41 a.m.

What proof is there that wearing a seat belt makes pedicabs safer for the passenger? I wouldn't want to be strapped in if one began to tip over! It's a stupid idea and a complete over-reaction due to the behavior of one bad pedicab driver. Issuing a limited number of permits is a good idea. By all means keep them off fast roads. But don't make laws about safety equipment unless you can show the outcome is positive.

Seat belts may actually make pedicabs more dangerous due to a) causing pedicabs to wait in traffic while passengers buckle up. b) not allowing for fast evacuation of the pedicab if it gets out of control or a collision is imminent.

Most pedicabs travel at a speed hardly faster than a walk. Strapping yourself in to one may well heighten your vulnerability to an accident.

Marti Emerald is making laws without any knowledge of whether they are effective. Just one more stupid rule to inconvenience us with little proven benefit.


Josh Board Sept. 6, 2009 @ 10:41 a.m.

I agree with the last two posts.

Regarding radio stations, the FCC used to have a law that you couldn't own more than two FM and two AM stations in the same market. That has changed. And, a lot of the things Clear Channel does, is EXACTLY why those laws were there in the first place.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 6, 2009 @ 11:50 a.m.

I too would like to know if a seatbelt would be effective in a pedicap.

There is no doubt they are effective in cars-where you are traveling at much faster speeds and injuries from not wearing seatbelts come from violent collisons inside the car, being thrown around in a crash against the car itself-I don't think those injuries would happen in a pedicab because the environment is completely different.


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