Rickshaw row as council keeps pedicab operators off streets

RICKSHAW operators in Glasgow are stepping up their fight to get back on the roads as the city council continues to turn down licences.

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Rickshaw operators are taking action to try to overturn the decision
Rickshaw operators are taking action to try to overturn the decision

Businesses and cyclists who want to use pedicabs to taxi people round the city say Glasgow has no reason to ban the mode of transport, which is popular in cities across the world, including Edinburgh and London.

Glasgow started licensing pedicabs as street traders in 2009. At the height of their popularity in the city, there were around 10 licensed operators.

However, in late 2010 the council began refusing to renew their licences.

Despite a successful appeal by a rickshaw operator in July 2012, the council has shown no sign of a U-turn.

Council bosses say their decision is down to safety concerns.

A group of rickshaw drivers is currently taking legal action to try to overturn the decision.

Entrepreneur Owen O'Neill, who runs Evolution Rickshaws, and operates successfully in Edinburgh, said: "I want to give jobs to people and set up a successful business in Glasgow.

"I've showed the council safety certificates for the rickshaws I use but they still don't believe they are safe.

"We've been cooperating with the council from the start but it's just getting ridiculous."

Mr O'Neill complained that the council itself had used rickshaws to help publicise the launch of the new Hydro venue by the Clyde.

He was told by officials that it was a publicity launch and no street trader licences were needed.

He said: "I couldn't believe it when they had a fleet of rickshaws for the Hydro opening.

"How could they say it was fine for those rickshaws, but it's not okay for others who use them?"

Cyclist Norman Armstrong was a rickshaw operator for two years before he was refused a licence renewal.

The 56-year-old, who runs cycle project Free Wheel North, at Glasgow Green, said: "Rickshaws are a sustainable form of transport and the council should be encouraging them."

Tom Brown, 49, uses a rickshaw billboard to advertise a travel firm.

He said: "In the eight years I've been doing this I've never had an accident.

"It's a bike - tourists like to see it, even people who live in Glasgow like to see it.

"People used to use it for getting a lift to the taxi rank after a night out.

"I've never heard anyone complaining about them."

Cycling campaigner Peter Hayman, who recently stepped down as councillor for cycling charity CTC Scotland, is supporting the bid to be bring rickshaws back to the city's streets.

He said: "It is a very strange situation. Pedicabs are used all over the world.

"CTC offered to draw up standards for Glasgow City Council in the past but I don't think the council want to spend the money to do that."

A council spokesman said: "If we are going to license a vehicle, it needs to be safe - potential passengers wouldn't expect anything else.

"We are trying to give the trade time to get a vehicle tested or demonstrate that they can meet safety standards."

rachel.loxton@eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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