London rickshaw rip-offs face huge crackdown as Grant Shapps announces new laws
Cycle rickshaw scammers in London face a huge crackdown as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced new laws on Wednesday. Cycle rickshaws also known as ‘rickshaws’ in the West End have been criticized for ripping off tourists and playing loud music at night.
Met Police and Westminster City Council have targeted ‘harmful’ drivers in recent operations that have led to prosecutions, but have expressed frustration at their limited powers to address the issue. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said new legislation would be introduced to control vehicles, in what he called “the wild west of pedicabs or rickshaws”.
Mr Shapps told the Transport Committee on Wednesday April 27: ‘There is no legislation that precisely allows for any type of license or appropriate control. It is time, it is high time, I know that Parliament has shown its interest through a series of backbench bills which for one reason or another…have not been adopted by Parliament. We will do this on government time in the transport bill.”
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The announcement was backed by Nickie Aiken, Tory for MP Cities of London and Westminster, who called for tougher rules for pedicabs. She said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted that finally, after a decade of trying to get legislation to allow pedicabs, we’ve gotten through it. The Prime Minister took a personal interest in this because he knows how dangerous some of these vehicles and drivers are and made sure that the noise and anti-social behavior of some of these drivers would now come to an end.
Ms Aiken proposed a private member’s bill last year that would require cycle rickshaws in Greater London to be subject to similar regulations to taxis. The government pledged to back the bill in November, but it was blocked by Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope.
The new laws, due to be announced on May 10, will be similar to Ms Aiken’s proposal last year. If approved, pedicab drivers will need a license from TfL and the authority can regulate the fees they charge for rides.
Three rowdy pedicab drivers were fined over £1,200 earlier this month for blasting loud music and annoying residents of the West End. Westminster City Council has pledged to continue targeting areas worst hit by “harmful” drivers, such as Covent Garden, Soho, Leicester Square, Chinatown and Mayfair.
Its executive director for the environment and the city, Raj Mistry, has previously said: ‘Cyclo rickshaw operators have caused serious problems in Westminster for many years by playing loud music, breaking code from the road, charging excessive fares and blocking pavements, causing massive accessibility issues…Westminster City Council teams will continue to work with the police to use our existing powers to ensure that residents and visitors can enjoy the city safely.