Pedicabs rental New Orleans
The City Council agreed this week to authorize for-hire pedicabs in New Orleans, at least for a trial period of a year or more, but the action may have to survive a legal challenge before the pedal-powered rickshaws can start picking up passengers.
The council passed an ordinance legalizing pedicabs and setting rules for their operation on a 7-0 vote Thursday after an hour of debate in which opponents repeated familiar arguments that the new vehicles will take business away from taxicabs and mule-drawn carriages whose owners already are struggling financially.
They also claimed that the council's Transportation Committee and its chairwoman, Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, failed to give them a proper hearing at earlier meetings or to seriously consider their objections. Palmer denied the objection, saying the issue was given months of review.
Such procedural arguments are likely to be prominent in possible lawsuits challenging the council's decision.
Mike Tifft, an attorney for a group of carriage and tour companies, said Friday that his clients have not decided whether to go to court and, in any event, would not do so until Mayor Mitch Landrieu either signs the ordinance, vetoes it or lets it become law without his signature. The mayor has 10 days to act. Neither Landrieu nor anyone from his administration has made any public comment on the proposal.
Even if there are no delays because of lawsuits, it could take several weeks for the first pedicab operators to meet all city requirements and get their permits.
Both Alex Mata, owner of Good Old Days Buggies, and Patrick Murphy, president of United Cabs, the city's largest cab company, told the council that the ordinance was being "ramrodded through" without adequate review or meaningful consultation with their segments of the for-hire transportation industry.
Tifft and Ike Spears, an attorney for United Cabs, also told the council the decision was being made without a new traffic study, even though a study done in 2001, when the idea was last under review, said the slow-moving vehicles would have a detrimental effect on traffic and safety, especially on the narrow streets of the French Quarter.
Tifft said, however, that the carriage and tour operators would drop their opposition if the council banned pedicabs from giving sightseeing tours and excluded them from operating on Chartres Street in the Quarter. The 700 block of Chartres, next to Jackson Square, is where carriages pick up most of their passengers.
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