Dave the Taxi Driver's


Guide to London

Pedicabs (Rickshaws)

This form of transport is one which I am not recommending. There is a possibility that these will be banned from the streets of London but I think it necessary, even if they are banned, to include this section so that anyone reading it, who might come across them in other cities, will stay well clear of them. If pedicabs remain under some form of regulation, then as far as I am concerned they will still be unsafe. There are several bodies involved in the debate of the possibility of regulating or controlling or banning pedicabs, so the process is taking a considerable time.

They arrived in London in 1998 on the ‘green ticket’ ie no emissions and have gradually increased in number. There are several companies who rent these out to riders. They put across the novelty aspect of a ride through London. Not too much fun for those involved in the increasing number of accidents.

They are to be seen hanging around theatres and clubs late at night touting for business, usually within the Borough of Camden and the City of Westminster. Touting is a recordable offence which means anyone convicted is required to supply fingerprints and samples of DNA .These councils are very particular when it comes to Health and Safety needs. They are also content to victimise both Taxi Drivers and other road users in order to swell their coffers by issuing heavy fines for minor road offences, yet they do nothing to prevent what is obviously a dangerous form of illegal transport. The illegal tag is also still being debated as pedicabs are classed as cycles. The Transport Research Laboratory, the British consultancy for road and vehicle matters, refused to allow their technicians to test pedicabs above 9 mph. They stated that pedicabs “ offered little or no protection in the event of an accident”.

The pedicab companies supposedly have a code of conduct to which the prospective rider has to agree but which they seem to disregard as soon as they hit the streets, such as riding the wrong way up one way streets whilst carrying passengers. I almost hit one when it was coming into Jermyn Street(SW1)the wrong way.

They also obstruct the highway and footpaths which is illegal.

At the end of 2008 hundreds of these contraptions were found to have been adapted and to be powered by batteries in order to increase the distances they could carry passengers. Several riders were arrested and the pedicabs impounded by the police. The riders were charged with using a motor vehicle without insurance. Using battery power classed them as a motor vehicle.

The list below gives the pro - yes only one- and cons and how a little fun turns into a disaster.


They don’t pollute the air being emission free.


The Transport Research Laboratory deem them to be unsafe at over 9 mph. Pedicabs reach speeds up to 25-30 mph when freewheeling down hills such as the Haymarket (SW1)

Their brakes are deemed unsuitable for the weight which they carry.

Pedicabs are unstable and regularly overturn causing injuries to both passenger and rider. Any minor collision can throw passengers out onto the road. Serious accidents include one in Bristol, one death in the Carribean and one man thrown out of the pedicab in Seattle who died shortly afterwards.

No riders are checked for medical problems or criminal records.

They are usually uninsured.

They charge what they like. Examples £20 from the Aldwych(WC2) to Waterloo(SE1) a distance of about I kilometre; £30 from New Bond Street to Soho about half a kilometre and I hear up to £70 for some journeys somewhat longer.

They break the law by touting.

They break the law by obstructing the Highway contrary to the Highways Act.

They break the law by obstructing the Pavement or Footpath.

They often ride the wrong way along one way streets putting their passengers at risk.

Considering the very strict laws that govern the official methods of transport in London -Buses, Taxis and Minicabs why are pedicabs allowed at all? You tell me.To begin with I would like to point out that I don’t see pedicabs as a threat to my income but as a threat to public safety. Their fares are far too high to be serious competitors.

Any questions? E-mail me

Return to London Index