Wednesday, June 10, 2009

LADOT Set To Legalize Pedicab Service, But With An Absurd Abundance Of Bureaucratic Strings Attached.

(New York City pedicab)

Pedicab service could be coming to Downtown Los Angeles, something many other cities have done with great success in dense downtown regions. Attempts to start pedicabs failed in the past due to lack of regulation, but renewed interest in pedicabs stems from efforts to revitalize downtown. Sounds great, but leave it to the LADOT to taint anything it touches with a clueless detachment from reality and an extra helping of bureaucratic disaster the likes of which Terry Gilliam could barely fathom. Eric Richardson broke the news on Blog Downtown, and I read through the document outlining the LADOT proposed pedicab rules and restrictions, which drones on for 16 pages.

(A look at the inner workings of the LADOT)

The biggest kickers in this document are that both driver and passengers would not only be required to wear helmets in addition to a seat belt, but the driver could be fined $500 dollars for carrying a passenger without a helmet or seat belt for a first time offense. Second offense and it escalates to a $1000 fine. An SUV driver caught speeding while texting on a cell phone, a scenario that is a vehicular manslaughter waiting to happen, would likely get off with less penalty.

No where is there pedicab service with mandatory helmet requirements, including fellow American cities like Austin, New York, and our neighboring San Diego. The other stand out example of bureaucracy gone absolutely amok is the restrictions on pedicab driver dress code. These rules mandate black shoes (no-sandals), collared shirts with sleeves and a belt. Violating the "Failure to present a neat personal appearance" mandate, results in a $25 dollar fine and immediate removal from service. For more details read the Blog Downtown post, and for the real specifics, check out the LADOT document if you can stand to do so without gauging your eyes out.

Looking over this document the only conclusion I can come to is that the LADOT would like pedicab service to become legal again so they can say they tried, but really they would like it to fail so as to not disturb the status quo. I imagine some exuberant entrepreneur setting out to start a pedicab business and being run into the ground by tickets in a matter of days. Your tax dollars hard at work with the LADOT, Moving LA Forward. Hopefully some of the red tape can be cut before this becomes policy, but this is LA, so I'm not holding my breath.


Dave Wyman said...

Bureaucracy exists to maintain itself, and one of the few ways to do that is to come up with an unending supply of rules. Eventually, though, rules can collapse upon themselves under their own weight.

This rules for operating pedicabs in Los Angeles seem so prolix as to suggest that L.A. doesn't deserve a fleet of pedicabs - the rules are not just just too numerous, they are also onerous.

Indeed, now that I've looked at them, the rules proposed by LADOT for pedicab operators are mind-numbing, and in some cases dumb. Helmets of every size for adults, none for children? Seat belts for adults, but infants and small children are excepted from wearing helmets? These rules are the opposite of those we usually have to obey, and as such, they don't make much sense, except they allow for the creation of rules.

I can see the rationale for fingerprinting operators of pedicabs. If one turns out to be a serial killer, and/or has a history of cycling head-on into buses, I suppose the city would want to know in advance, to head off a potential law suit. Still, it seems like another governmental intrusion into our lives.

Drivers must wear a belt and have a collar on their shirts? I guess that rules out bike clothing being worn by the cyclists who would operate pedicabs.

As a liberal, I know we need rules and I know government must offer them up and then attempt to make them stick. We do need to regulate, for example, the quality of food served to the public, we need to regulate the safety features of aircraft that fly the public, we need to rules for the operation of banks and other financial institutions (that is, NOW we do).

The rules for operating pedicabs are as oppressive as the rules were lax for regulating banks.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't that helmet rule be fought with the California Vehicle Code 21212 where it says that helmets are only required for those under 18 years old?

Which, as Dave pointed out above, is the opposite of what they want to implement.

ubrayj02 said...

A lot of the dumb crap about helmets and clothes got dealt with pretty sternly by the Board of Transportation Commissioners yesterday morning - but little was done to address the onerous operator license application the LADOT has designed.

You have to submit maps of where, exactly, you'll be operating your pedicab, and supply all sorts of other plan-check style paperwork before the LADOT will even rule on your ability to use a pedicab.

They require your pedicab to be approved by them before they approve you license - so you'll have to pray that the $5,000+ you just spent on a top-of-the-line cab was worth it - because they may reject your application anyway! Use a pedicab on a "major" street and it sounds like the LADOT will say "too bad no permit for you".

Jason Yung said...

Thanks for using my photo! I have more bike pics for your readers here:

AMIT said...
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家出 said...
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