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

Written by Becca Tucker on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.


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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