Friday, July 10, 2009

Too Little, Too Late: San Diego’s Pedicabs

Following the death of a retired teacher who fell from a pedicab, the city is up in arms over the need to regulate the city’s popular mode of transportation among tourists.

After years of existence in San Diego, while pedicab operators are required to register with the city and have seat belts, there is now law imposing it’s use and there are no other regulations imposed on pedicabs.

How sad that it would have to take the loss of one woman’s life to spur the city to action. Councilwoman Marti Emerald, chairwoman of the council's public safety panel admitted that indeed the industry has been regulated to casually.

Residents claim that there is already oversaturation of the pedicabs in downtown San Diego and authorities peg that there are about 400 pedicabs that are operated in the city during summer. Emerald, along with council members Kevin Faulconer, Todd Gloria and Tony Young are now pushing for the swift approval of regulations among which would:

  • Ban the three-wheeled taxis from sidewalks and from streets with speed limits greater than 25 miles per hour.

  • Require pedicab operators to carry proof of insurance and clearly display fare rates on each vehicle.

  • Cap the number of pedicabs allowed to operate in San Diego at 250

  • Limit the number of pedicabs allowed to operate in high-traffic areas of Petco Park, Balboa Park, downtown, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.

According to the city’s police, the pedicab involved in the road accident did not have seat belts and that the driver was driving erratically and swerving through Martin Luther King Promenade which caused Sharon Miller to fall from the vehicle. Bicycles and pedicabs are banned from the promenade.

The driver, Sukru Safa Cinar, 23, of Turkey was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter. Cinar recently arrived in the United States on a four-month visa and he leased the vehicle from Shakespeare Pedicab of San Diego.

Faulconer said that pedicabs are part of what makes San Diego special but that the city must do more to make sure these vehicles are safe.

Is this another case of too little, too late? Yes, it appears to be that way. This time however, the axe of liability will most likely just fall on the pedicab company and the driver.