AUSTIN (KXAN) — Changes could be coming for pedicab drivers after a KXAN investigation last November into safety concerns about the popular downtown transportation option. Austin’s transportation department will ask council members this week to change the rules for pedicabs in an effort to make passengers safer.
Michael Castillo was riding in a pedicab when the trailer he was in broke loose from the bike.
“When it tipped over it was like someone hitting you in the back of the head with a two-by-four, or a baseball bat,” he said. He suffered a concussion and bleeding from the brain.
Transportation department officials now want to get rid of trailers like the one Castillo was in. Instead, they want to make the bikes all one unit.
“I think its past time…its past due,” Castillo said, “because they knew the problem was there. I had my problem with it and I’m sure other people had a problem with it, and they’ve chosen to stretch it out as far as they can.”
There are more than 500 pedicabs operating in Austin, but the transportation department wants to reduce that number to about 300 through attrition, which would allow them to better regulate pedicabs.
“Some of the things we saw were concerning,” Carlton Thomas said in regards to pedicab safety. Thomas works for the Austin Transportation Department. “During the discussions there’s always been concern about the use of the trailer-type pedicabs versus vehicles purposely built to operate as pedicabs.”
And that concern could finally lead to a new ordinance that the city believes will better protect passengers.
KXAN reached out to several pedicab companies and no one wanted to comment. The transportation department will propose these changes at Thursday’s city council meeting. If council members choose to adopt the regulations, changes could come within 10 days.
This move is also coming at a time when more transportation options are becoming available across the city. Ridesharing companies recently received permission from the city council to operate in Austin, but the city has yet to issue Uber and Lyft permits. The companies must first sign contracts with the city before that can happen.
And in August, the city launched its second MetroRapid bus line through Downtown Austin. There are also more than 750 taxi cab permits in the city right now.