Rickshaw safety rules ‘too late to save Christopher’

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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TOUGH new safety controls on city rickshaws are to be introduced after an off-duty soldier was killed in an accident.

But today the soldier’s sister called for the pedal-powered vehicles to be banned altogether.

Krystyle O’Kane’s brother Christopher, 26, was fatally injured during a night out celebrating his birthday in April 2010 when, as a passenger in a cycle-cab, he fell out and struck his head in Lothian Road.

Christopher O'Kane died after falling from a rickshaw in 2010

Christopher O'Kane died after falling from a rickshaw in 2010

He later died at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

In the aftermath of the accident, there were immediate calls for tighter regulation of the industry.

Now council officials are poised to step up the levels of regulation of pedicabs to bring them more in line with other licensed industries, such as taxis.

New measures to be considered include testing the vehicles to ensure they meet safety standards as well as assessing driver competence.

Ms O’Kane said lives would be saved by tightening regulation of the industry, but the laws had come too late to protect Christopher, a corporal with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

“I’m glad tougher regulations could be coming in because they will save lives,” she said. “I just wish they had been brought in sooner. My brother was never told to sit down or to wear a seat belt.”

She added: “I would like to see [rickshaws] scrapped altogether.”

The proposals have been welcomed by members of the trade and community leaders.

Councillor Rob Munn, convener of the city’s regulatory committee, which first called for a review of regulation in 2010, said: “Pedicab drivers are already regulated as they have to apply for licences, and are subject to the usual checks. But this, depending on what comes back from the consultation, is to look at the vehicles being regulated.”

A set of new conditions is expected to be drawn up, before being presented to a meeting of the regulatory committee then put out to public consultation.

Council officials have said the measures could cover the “fitness of the vehicle used, the competence of the driver, the safety arrangements and appropriate insurance”.

Greg Aitken, owner of Chariot Cabs, one of the main pedicab operators in the city, said: “There are some aspects there that are necessary and could be imposed. Certainly the vehicle’s condition should be in perfect order.

“Some bikes are not in a good condition at all so if there could be some checks similar to an MOT that would be great.”

However, he added: “What might happen is someone makes a decision but does not have the right knowledge. So far there’s not been enough consultation so we might end up with regulation that does not improve anything and puts up hurdles so you end up with pointless bureaucracy.”