A D.C. pedicab operator was arrested for assaulting a Park Police officer last fall but he insists he's not guilty — and that his arrest is indicative of a far broader problem involving harassment and murky regulation haphazardly applied to the pedicabbing industry, a nascent form of transportation in the District. As spring and summer approach, Washington, D.C. still lacks a clear resolution regarding a past year of pedicab friction, but key officials recognize a need to come together soon.
"Mine was the third arrest of the year, " the young man known as Oskar Mosco, legally Scott Myerson, told me when standing next to his lawyer Jeffrey Light in D.C. court chambers on Jan. 10. "At least a dozen pedicab operators have had citations. Both the arrests and citations are harassment."
Last week, the prosecution dismissed Mosco's case, and the pedicab operator says it's no surprise because there was no case to begin with. The legal actions simply represented more harassment, in his opinion. Mosco says that operators' citations have typically been contested and subsequently dropped. Last fall after his arrest, he helped start the D.C. Pedicab Operators Association, which now has 19 dues-paying members but expects more soon. They joined together, according to Mosco, to create a unified voice of pedicab operators against a tense front of unclear regulations and alleged conflict with the Park Police. They talk every couple weeks or so, often by phone, but expect to communicate more and in person once the weather warms and pedicab season begins in earnest. "We want to be included in this new transportation plan on the Mall, " said Aaron Stanley, a 26-year-old part-time pedicabber and Financial Times's D.C. bureau manager, who has joined the nascent organization. Pedicabs have emerged as a major form of transportation for the District's tourists over the last half decade, especially in hot spots like the National Mall. Mosco expects the association will meet with both DDOT and NPS in the near future.
"I'd say 95% of our conversations are about Park Police and regulations, " Mosco said in January. "The reality is we haven't met, we haven't talked about anything."
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That's when the notices really started coming in—alerting her that her drivers license was suspended, as was her (already expired) pedicab license, in addition to a warrant for her arrest. The total for the two tickets was also raised to $625.