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Westminster Council is cracking down on rogue rickshaws in central London

Time might be up for the money-guzzling tourist-bait pedicabs

Written by
Ellie Muir

If you’ve ever been out in central London, you’ll know the neon, fur-covered pedicabs parked up on the West End’s streets. Sometimes, you’ll spot drunken tourists riding in the back, squealing their heads off.

You’ll find them zipping between London’s pedestrians and luring in people on street corners, with some being charged up to £500 for a 10-minute ride. It’s daylight robbery. But crucially, most of them don’t have seatbelts for passengers. As a Time Out investigation revealed, those bikes are sometimes unlicensed and lack safety regulations. Judgement day is coming, apparently, as Westminster Council is set to launch a campaign warning people of the dangers of the pimped-up bikes. 

Since November 2021, £17,375 in fines have been issued to pedicab drivers for excessive fares and noise pollution, according to the BBC. Now monthly pedicab patrols by Westminster City Council and the police will also be introduced on Oxford Street and around Covent Garden, Soho and the West End. Londoners and tourists will be handed leaflets warning them about excessive fares, lack of safety measures and the dangers of riding with drivers who may ignore the Highway Code.

The slogan on the campaign poster reads: ‘Be careful what you get into. Pedicabs are unsafe and can cost you more than your night out.’

Westminster City Council has been struggling to stop pedicab drivers from charging huge fees and driving dangerously because the vehicles are not currently regulated. The laws covering pedicabs are pretty ancient. They haven’t been updated since 1869 because the rickshaws are treated legally as ‘stage carriages’. The council is now working with the Department for Transport and TfL to draw up new rules for pedicabs.

So, will the EDM-blaring, money-guzzling pedicabs be removed from the streets anytime soon? Probably not. It will be hard for the council to get rid of them altogether, and it will take some time for new rules to be put in place. In the meantime, the council’s campaign will definitely be a blow to business and might put people off riding in the damn things. 

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