AUSTIN -- Austin City Council members are looking to extend a ban on new permits for pedicab drivers. The current moratorium ends later this month. City transportation officials say it boils down to safety.
The council passed a new ordinance in April that includes a number of new safety regulations for pedicab operators. The regulations take effect next summer. Until then the city wants to keep any new operators from starting up business. It passed a six-month moratorium on permit requests.
The moratorium expires Oct. 23. Transportation officials are now asking the council to extend the moratorium for an additional six months. If approved, the city would not accept any new pedicab permits until April 23, 2013.
Pedicab stakeholders are throwing their support behind the movement. They've already met with the city's transportation department.
Those operators are already working on setting up their bikes and trailers for the new requirements. It includes, in part, brakes on the trailers and additional safety checks for the bikes. Those are safety regulations that until recently weren't considered a priority. However the pedicab industry is rapidly growing. There are more than 500 permits currently issued in Austin.
“It has exploded across the United States, but being a green city as Austin has been called, the pedicab industry really getting people around downtown in short trips really is ideal,” said Parking Enterprise Manager for the City of Austin Steve Grassfield.
All pedicab drivers have to pay for a permit to operate. It costs $250 a year. Drivers make quarterly payments. The pedicab industry is asking the city to require permit holders to maintain the permit in one year increments. There's a growing trend of drivers who will only operate during major events including ACL or South by Southwest.
The council is expected to approve the moratorium extension in a vote Thursday afternoon. A vote on regulating how long permits last is pending.