‘Hazardous’ rickshaws approved despite fears

Pedicabs are popular with tourists. Picture: TSPL

Pedicabs are popular with tourists. Picture: TSPL

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RICKSHAWS will be able to continue to operate in the city centre despite a bid by transport chiefs to clear the “hazardous” vehicles from the Capital’s streets.

Edinburgh’s rickshaws narrowly swerved a ban, having faced a threat of being scrapped following a report that claimed they “frequently create hazards for pedestrians and road users”.

Environmental wardens said they had recorded several instances where riders were “not compliant with the Highway Code” and also drove outside approved areas.

Rickshaw operators insisted their drivers completed a “thorough programme of training” and adhered to a strict code of conduct.

But the situation was resolved this afternoon when operators were granted a renewal of their licensees, subject to monitoring, at a meeting of the Licensing Sub Committee.

Ahead fo the meeting, Joe Allenza of pedicab firm b-spokes said: “We are very disappointed to have received these objections because we’ve always tried to work closely with the council and the police to ensure we operate to the highest standards.

“We have always taken a proactive role in ensuring that all Edinburgh pedicab operators strive to adhere to best practice. We were instrumental in ensuring that all pedicabs across Edinburgh are adequately identified, with each pedicab being allocated a number.

“This ensures that any potential complaint can be adequately addressed against any particular driver.

“In any event, we are in absolute agreement that now is an opportune time to consider how we may improve practices going forward.”

Safety fears about the vehicles were first raised after they were introduced to the Capital in 2001 when a student from Northern Ireland was badly injured when her scarf became tangled in a wheel.

And in 2010, East Lothian soldier Christopher Kane was killed after falling out of a pedicab and hitting his head.

His death led to calls to step up the levels of regulation of pedicabs to bring them in line with other licensed industries, such as taxis.

The objections, raised by the Capital’s transport officials, went before the licensing committee yesterday, and two licences were approved, for Edinburgh Pedicabs and applicant Gavin Allan Craig Smith.

Andrea Nicholas, director of Green Tourism, said she hoped a balance could be struck.

She said: “To be able to experience the culture, history and architecture of Edinburgh at a slow pace is ideal but the responsibility and care of residents and visitors to Edinburgh, and their customers, needs to be of the highest quality.

“If this doesn’t happen, not only is it potentially dangerous to drivers but it’s not sending the right message to visitors.”

Last night, a council spokeswoman said: “The outcome was that the operators had their street traders licenses granted which means they will be able to continue as rickshaw operators.

“Councillors granted the licenses but put them on a watching brief. It means the council will monitor their activities and carry out regular checks. It’s fairly straight forward.”