Pedicabs Roll Down Broadway, Picking Up Tourists And Pissing Off Cabbies


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It was a rally that could only take place in New York.


“Regulators, mount up!” screamed Jesse White, a pedicabber with a penchant for the limelight, twenty minutes after the scheduled start time for today’s mass pedicab ride from Columbus Circle to City Hall.
 

Some pedicab drivers heeded the call to action made famous by Warren G., loaded reporters and photogs into their cabs and started peddling south; others were busy making last minute preparations like tying green balloons to their cabs; still others smoked cigarettes and watched the parade roll away.

“No Cap! No Ban!” the ralliers chanted at a red light at 49th and Broadway. They were protesting the City Council-sponsored cap on pedicabs, which would only allow 325 pedicabs to operate in the city (a 35% reduction of the current force) and the ban that would keep pedicabs off of bike lanes and bridges and congested streets, and has already made electric-assist pedicabs illegal.


A city bus driver honked his horn in time with the chant. A bike messenger yelled, “You gonna ride to the boat, your fairies?” The tail-end of the procession, one long traffic light behind the rest, took up a new cry: “What do we want? More pedicabs! When do we want ‘em? When we run out of oil!” A man with an enormous black feather in his hat stopped in the crosswalk at Times Square and cawed back to the protesters in imitation of a bird. A Chinese food deliveryman in a neon piney followed the procession on his bike for awhile, studiously reading the flyer he’d been handed.

I caught up with Doug Korman at Herald Square. The founder of the Green Transporters Association, Korman drove an electric-assist pedicab until they became illegal. Today he was riding a regular old road bike.

“It’s a greedy effort to squeeze us out and crush us completely,” Korman said of the City Council’s cap, scheduled to take place September 20th. The Council is kowtowing to the Taxi & Limousine Commission, he said, but for no good reason since taxi cabs and pedicabs draw from different customer bases.


“We charge three to four times what taxis charge. We do not really, honestly, compete with them. People who go with us want this type of ride. People who go with them do not usually go with us.”
 


A natural orator, Korman started getting into it, waving his arms as if the pedestrians on lunch break were a vast audience.



“We were the ones that hauled people out of Ground Zero. We were here for the blackout. We were here for the transit strike. We were here for the storm that flooded everything. Pedicabs are a green alternative, ever-present!”

“That’s K-O-R-M-A-N!” he yelled as he pedaled away.


Photo by Becca Tucker


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