Calls to regulate London pedicabs after TikTok user claims 5-minute ride nearly cost $250

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The pedicabs are a common sight in central London into the evening, though concerns have been raised over the years about a lack of regulation.

A London council is calling for powers to regulate pedicabs in the city centre, claiming the current system leaves inspectors trying to combat drivers “with one hand tied behind their backs”.

A spokesperson for Westminster City Council said the authority specifically wants to see a transport bill included in the King’s Speech in November, enabling it and Transport for London (TfL) to cap the number of pedicabs and the fees they charge passengers.

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Unlike taxis, pedicabs, also known as rickshaws, do not have to be licensed to operate in the capital. A Private Members Bill, introduced by Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken in 2021, is designed to ensure they are regulated in line with taxis and private hire vehicles, though is yet to have its second reading in parliament.

The pedicabs are a common sight in the city centre into the evening, often accompanied by flashing lights and loud music.

Pedicabs are often used by visitors to travel around central London into the evening. Credit: Westminster City Council.Pedicabs are often used by visitors to travel around central London into the evening. Credit: Westminster City Council.
Pedicabs are often used by visitors to travel around central London into the evening. Credit: Westminster City Council. | Westminster City Council

Concerns around how much drivers charge and the volume of the music they play have been raised over the years.

In a recent TikTok video, which has been viewed 4.6 million times, user Nicole Kramer said a pedicab driver had tried to charge her and two friends $250 for a five minute ride during a recent visit to London.

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Ms Kramer told LondonWorld the journey was a short trip from Sexy Fish to Sketch, both in Mayfair and just 0.3 miles apart. She said they did not end up having to pay the full fee. A later video showed them posing for a photo with the driver.

Asked how it is working to prevent similar instances, a Westminster City Council spokesperson said the authority is doing what it can, but that it needs more powers from government to regulate the industry.

Currently, they said the council is limited to only prosecuting noise and nuisance charges, from which it has received almost £35,000 in fines.

However, the spokesperson said without a change in the law, inspectors cannot protect passengers from extortionate fares or unsafe pedicabs.

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They said a transport bill in the King’s Speech in November should stipulate all pedicabs must be licenced with TfL. This would allow the council to manage numbers within the city centre, and give the transport authority the power to regulate costs.

Cllr Aicha Less, deputy leader and cabinet member for communities, public protection and licensing, said: “It’s clear that the government has been freewheeling when it comes to providing proper legislation on pedicabs.

“Anyone who goes out in the West End can see how real the issue is. Our city inspectors are trying to combat pedicabs with one hand tied behind their backs.

“We’ll continue to enforce what powers we have to take these rip-off rickshaws off the streets, but we need a transport bill in November with clearly defined legislation that gives more power to us and TfL.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said the government is committed to regulating London’s pedicab industry “when parliamentary time allows”.

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