The city of Austin’s freeze on issuing new pedicab licenses, which was supposed to expire Wednesday, will remain in place for another three months as the Austin Department of Transportation finalizes recommendations for additional regulations, which may include a ban on certain trailer pedicab models. The moratorium has been in place since April 2012.
Department officials will consider implementing a city-wide cap on the number of pedicab permits in circulation and a requirement that pedicab companies use a three-wheeled, fully connected tricycle model, rather than a model in which a brake-less trailer is connected to a normal bicycle.
“In 2012, the council approved some regulation, but those two things were not addressed at that time,” said Carlton Thomas, acting parking enterprise manager for the Austin Department of Transportation. “The Austin Transportation Department was given what amounted to two years to conduct research and look out across the country, to see how other cities are handling the number of pedicabs that operate in their jurisdiction, and the type of pedicabs that are permitted to operate.”
The department is looking at data from cities including New York, Denver and Phoenix, Thomas said. Council member Chris Riley sponsored the original ordinance with Bill Spelman.
Leah Bojo, a policy aide for Riley, said the council approved the extension because they were not prepared to draw conclusions about ideal pedicab regulations.
“The staff hadn’t completely worked through the stakeholder process to get the final recommendations,” Bojo said.
David Tashnick, owner of Easy Rider Pedicabs, said the tricycles are safer and more economical.
“It doesn’t make business sense for any pedicab owner to use trailers because the riders prefer tricycles,” Tashnick said. “I’ve lost count of how many drivers I’ve hired that used to drag trailers and wanted something better.”
Tashnick said he is confident that the council will implement the regulations being discussed.
“I’m very certain the city council is going to eventually put a sunset on the usage of trailers here in town, and, in a few years, trailers will no longer be permanent in Austin,” Tashnick said.