June 2009
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Pedicabs…Accident and New Proposals.

Last Wednesday morning a bad accident occurred on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg bridge, involving a pedicab and a taxi.
The driver of the pedicab, 42, Nicholas Nicometi was in serious condition at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital.
There were 3 passengers of the pedicab who were injured in the crash.
This story was reported on in the NY Times.

Four Hurt When a Pedicab Slams Into a Taxi in Brooklyn
pedicab_600(photo by: Theodore Parisienne)

A witnesses said the pedicab had just crossed the Williamsburg Bridge and was “coming off the bridge fast” when it hit a taxi. By AL BAKER and MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
Published: June 10, 2009

Read the complete article here.

It should be noted that this accident occurred at 7:30 in the morning and brings up several issues about pedicabs and bicycle infrastructure here in NYC.

1) Who the hell takes a pedicab at 7:30am from Manhattan to Brooklyn? Although any accident of this nature is tragic, its seems rather random and reeks that the participants were not in a sound state and perhaps this was some sort of “joyride.”
2) The pedicab was traveling on the South path of the Williamsburg Bridge which is not the ideal route. The North side is much wider and doesn’t empty out into a busy street with limited visibility of on coming traffic. This is a dangerous design for any cyclist and would make sense to separate bikes from pedestrians on two paths which seems to be a rather consistent occurrence on the Manhattan Bridge. Its not official, but most people seem to get the idea that bikes only go on one side and besides the South side of the Manhattan bridge has stairs instead of a bike path acting as a natural deterrent.
3) There is currently a legal fight about regulating pedicabs which if resolved, may have helped to deter the accident and the injuries. Most of the parties involved can agree that safety standards need to be in place such as seat belts and laws against traveling on bridges or in tunnels, but Pedicab advocates are not happy with current legislation which would limit the numbers of the cabs given licenses.

This has now changed since the initial proposed rules of 2007 which is reported on in this recent NY Times article entitled:
Stalled Plan to License Pedicabs Advances
Published: June 15, 2009

The city will move forward with its long-stalled regulation of pedicabs, officials said on Sunday, four days after an accident in Brooklyn seriously injured a driver and focused attention on the lack of oversight of the tourist-friendly tricycles.

Owners of the pedal-powered cabs would have a 60-day window to register with the city, under a proposal announced by the mayor and the City Council speaker. Those who provide proof of ownership and insurance would receive a license, providing that their vehicles pass a safety examination.

The proposed rules are a shift from the city’s first attempt at regulating the industry in 2007, when the city insisted on a limit to the number of licenses it would issue. Pedicab owners sued, arguing the cap would hurt established businesses, and regulation was held up for two years.


7 comments to Pedicabs…Accident and New Proposals.

  • johnson

    The problem with the Manhattan bridge south side is that riders either ignore the no bike sign or do not see it. Plus if they ride through the park on the Brooklyn side, which many do, one can ride without any steps. They do not like being told to ride on the North Side. Just like the pedestrians on the North Side.

  • Perry

    Pardon me, johnson…
    What the hell are you talking about? Your reply doesn’t read very well, and I’m having a hard time catching what you’re throwing.

  • […] Bike Blog NYC » Pedicabs…Accident and New Proposals.This is a dangerous design for any cyclist and would make sense to separate bikes from pedestrians on two paths which seems to be a rather consistent occurrence on the Manhattan Bridge. Its not official, but most people seem to get the … […]

  • […] rear-ended a livery town car in slow-moving traffic … Bike Blog NYC » Pedicabs…Accident and New Proposals. Jun 17, 2009 Last Wednesday morning a bad accident occurred on the Brooklyn side of the […]

  • Good to hear about this. At least the city has found a way to control them. It is quite a challenge to drive on the streets with a slow moving pedicab on it. What’s even worse is that there are stubborn pedicab drivers who wouldn’t even let you drive past them and keep on driving in the center of the road.

  • Lara

    I still can’t believe pedicabs are allowed in the US, with so much safety control.
    We had the misfortune of taking one when we were in NYC for 9 blocks. The driver was wreckless and for many times we could have crashed. That alone was enough for me to never use one again. But then the rip off. 64 dollars for 9 blocks. We were so in shock with the ride and so relieved that we survived that all I wanted was to get out of there. I think that is the strategy. Put you in danger and then charge you crazy money while you are still shell shocked. If I could turn back time, I would have called the police. If you are a tourist, negotiate the price before and stick to the Central Park, where you don’t take a higher risk of being in a crash.

  • Amazing that motor vehicles, which kill 30000 to 40000 persons annually, including 250 persons annually in NYC, continue to be tolerated in dense urban areas such as Manhattan. Remove motor vehicles; then, rolling about in manpowered contraptions becomes safer than ever. Of course, with a fatality rate of zero since their inception almost 20 years ago, pedicabs in NYC are the safest bet in city streets even with murderous motor vehicles polluting our city streets ceaselessly.

    As for the extortion… Well, I can only suggest buyer beware at this point, as the NYC Council continues to mandate the licensing of thousands of illegal businesses via its pedicab driver licensing program at DCA. These illegal businesspeople go out and extort customers by the thousand daily – and you can thank your local councilmember for that fact.