Council rule change set to allow rickshaws on the Meadows

Pedicabs are currently only licensed to operate in the city centre but will soon be able to drive through the Meadows. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Pedicabs are currently only licensed to operate in the city centre but will soon be able to drive through the Meadows. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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Pedicabs will be allowed to legally operate in the Meadows as new licensing rules will call on the drivers to ensure vehicles are up to scratch.

The city council’s regulatory committee agreed to adopt a new licensing regime for pedicabs from April 2019 – despite a row over responsibility now falling on the drivers rather than the owners of the vehicles.

Pedicabs have operated in Edinburgh since 1996 and there are currently four licenced companies, 70 licensed employees and around 60 vehicles that operate in the city centre.

The council launched a consultation to tackle “a number of concerns about passenger safety, the operating area and adherence to licensing conditions”.

The operation has previously given rise to a number of concerns about passenger safety. In April 2010, a man died after falling from a pedicab. In 2001, a woman was seriously injured when her neck scarf became entangled in the wheels of a pedicab. The vehicles will no longer be able to wait outside pubs to pick up passengers.

Regulatory services manager Andrew Mitchell said: “There are no official ranks.

“The drivers for this were colleagues in roads and police and others complaining about large numbers of pedicabs bunching up in certain areas and causing an obstruction.”

Pedicabs are currently only licensed to operate in the city centre, but this will be extended to the Meadows – where on occasion the vehicles are seen operating.

Mr Mitchell added: “The pedicab trade has long standing questions about wishing to expand the footprint of the operation. The reality is that we will find pedicabs operating as far as the Meadows. There does not seem to be wholesale objections so it appears to be that a proportionate measure would be to include the Meadows to be accepted in the footprint.

“The industry, in order to ensure that it can safety deliver a service, will have to satisfy the council’s conditions – which are designed to ensure public safety. It is a shake-up of the industry and they will be required to come up with a slightly different business model.”

Cllr Neil Ross spoke out against putting the onus of ensuring the vehicles meet safety standards on the drivers, rather than the pedicab companies.

He said: “I appreciate the driver should be licensed for street trading. We are expecting the driver of the pedicab to be responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle – but they may not have access to that vehicle on a regular basis. We are expecting them to 
comply with a quarterly series of checks. There doesn’t seem to be any requirement on the vehicle owner to meet any of the conditions. There should be some sort of regulation impact on the vehicle owner.”

Councillors voted in favour of the officer recommendations to put the onus on the drivers to ensure the vehicles are safe.

Cllr Catherine Fullerton, regulatory committee convener, said: “An updated policy framework and new conditions for pedicabs in Edinburgh was approved by members of the regulatory committee, with a view to addressing concerns around passenger safety and pedicabs’ operating area.”