Thursday, April 2, 2009

Repairing our image will take a while

The New York City pedicab business image has been damaged, over the past four or five years, by drivers who have been out to make all they can in the shortest possible time. We hear about 3-block rides that cost $40, "tours" of Central Park in which misinformation is passed, for $120. There are guys who try to charge $40 on every street hail. One guy told me that he tries to do it every time because, if he asks 30 people in a day and only four of them accede, he's got $160 in his pocket, and that's a decent day.

Our numbers have risen to perhaps 600 pedicabs on the streets. But no one really knows. It's rumored that Osman Zenk has 200 pedicabs (195 of them uninsured) but again, no one knows. The determination of numbers will be up to the Department of Consumer Affairs, if and when the Pedicab Owner Association lawsuit appeal (by the DCA) is decided. Then, registrations will begin.

When pedicabs finally undergo registration, they will be tested for basic safety equipment such as brake lights, hydraulic brakes, turn signals, seat belts. All pedicabs in the New York City Pedicab Owner Association already have everything that makes us street legal. When registration comes, we will stand, and they will fall.

But damage has been done to our reputation by these illegal fly-by-nights. It's going to take a long time to repair our image in the eyes of the riding public.