Last year, at South-by-Southwest in Austin, our main form of transportation from venue to venue was via the incredible pedicab services sprinkled all across the city. It was comfortable, leisurely, and very affordable. We were allowed to stop along the way at a small hot dog vendor, and take in the street life along our route…something we would have never done in a regular cab. Last night, while enjoying a pint at our local pizza tavern, Eno’s, the manager there told me about his attempt to start a similar rickshaw business in Oak Cliff that would take people around Bishop Arts and on small historic tours. After securing a storage facility, a business partner, and pedicabs, he was met with a wall of restrictions and obstacles making it nearly impossible for him to get an operation off the ground with the city.
After doing some more digging, we found this USA Today story from 2004 highlighting the revival of pedicabs in cities across the US. The story goes on to mention a handful of cities beginning to crackdown on the services as being impediments to traffic. Dallas was noted specifically with the following:
“Dallas last year adopted regulations to keep pedicabs off busy streets that have speed limits of 30 mph or higher. The city also began requiring operators to have licenses, insurance and business permits.
The restrictions included the area near American Airlines arena, where pedicab drivers could make good tips running people to cars in nearby parking lots after events. The profits were far better than around parks and the Lower Granville area that the city had left open to pedicabs.
The result is the 40 or so pedicabs in the city have been pushed off the streets because they are no longer profitable.
That’s unfortunate, says Don Bearden, of the city transportation office. But he says the streets must be safe. And a 300-pound pedicab is no match for a 2,000-pound car at 30 mph. The city recognizes that cars are more prevalent, and slow-moving vehicles are an impediment.
“Drivers get hacked off enough at other cars, let alone some bicycle weaving in and out of traffic,” he says. “We don’t think it’s safe.”“
We find this interesting, considering the guys at CycleDallas anti-bike lane argument is that in Dallas you “own the lane”, that “bicycles are vehicles”, and “have every right cars do”. They even cite Sec. 551-101 of the Texas Transportation Code to back up their argument.
Maybe that’s true in theory…but I wouldn’t start a business based on it.