Bicycle-powered cab operators are urging Philadelphia city officials to loosen restrictions imposed on them. The city recently allowed the so called ‘pedicabs’ to start business legally, but only during daylight hours and in certain neighborhoods.
With the summer heat these restrictions have been hard on business.
“When it’s too cold it’s not good, when it’s too hot it’s not good,” says Ron Ash, president of the Philadelphia Pedicab Alliance. “You can hop in a taxi with air conditioning…. Green transportation is great, but I don’t think anything can beat air conditioning when it’s 102 degrees out.”
But over the 4th of July weekend, the Streets Department expanded the allowable operating hours to extend until after dark. And that, plus the crowds over the weekend were great for business – the pedicabs could really showcase what they had to offer.
“I had a ride – middle aged man, his elderly father and his son needed a ride from Le Meridian Hotel to the Parkway,” says Ben Dambman, co-owner of Chariots of Philadelphia, which had eleven drivers out during the 4th of July celebration on the Parkway. “They wanted good seats for the concert. He had a sprained ankle. It was pretty convenient – down pretty close to the stage where a cab wouldn’t have been able to take them.”
Still, pedicab drivers would like to see more restrictions lifted. Expanding into neighborhoods like Old City, could be an especially good fit.
The city normally prohibits pedicabs from Old City. But Ash says the foot traffic around the neighborhood’s bars and theaters is the ideal market. The Streets Department is supposed to reassess pedicabs at the end of the summer. Ash is pushing for an earlier verdict – to allow pedicabs to expand operations before the summer is over.