Build a Pedicab — Pedicabs

Build a Pedicab

Pedicab 02On Tuesday afternoon, bicycle taxis lined up near the Ferry Building, waiting to take tourists for an open-air ride along the San Francisco waterfront.

As a ferry neared the dock, a fit young man pedaled over on a rickety yellow pedicab and parked nearby. The driver at the front of the line, Daniel Crew, bristled and edged forward. He maneuvered so as not to lose a ride to the newcomer, an operator from West Coast Pedicab of San Diego. Crew and other old-timers say that company’s pedicabs, which appeared this summer, do not play by the rules.

“My beef with those guys from San Diego is they sit over there and catch people before they get over here, ” said Crew. “They’re jumping the line.”

Before West Coast’s arrival, three San Francisco companies offered rides in pedicabs — three-wheeled bicycles with wide back seats — to tourist destinations on the waterfront and in North Beach and Chinatown.

But the arrival of West Coast Pedicab, which the police say does not have all the proper permits, has touched off a small war.

The newcomers say it is simply a matter of the established companies trying to protect their turf — a turf large enough to share, according to Eric Wesselink, the owner of West Coast Pedicab.

“Of course, they’re upset — they’re only 40 cabs, with millions of tourists, ” Wesselink said. “They don’t want anyone else in the business.”

The pedicab industry has exploded across the country in recent years. In cities like San Diego and New York, where hundreds roam the streets, accidents and overcrowding have forced strict regulation. But in San Francisco, pedicabs are just now on the rise. San Francisco Pedicabs, for which Crew drives, has been around for decades and was joined — more or less peacefully — in recent years by Golden Gate Pedicab and Cabrio Taxi. All plan to expand. Their drivers say they worry that the West Coast drivers will ruin their reputations and draw government scrutiny.

A San Francisco Pedicabs driver, Theo Fitzgerald, said that a woman had recently complained to him that a West Coast driver charged $100 for a ride from the Ferry Building to Fisherman’s Wharf, normally a $20 fare.

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