RICKSHAWS ARE FACING an all-out ban in the Dublin City Council area if the Department of Transport can be persuaded to initiate a clampdown.
Conversations between the council, the National Transport Agency (NTA) and minister Shane Ross’s department have culminated in agreement that something must be done about the unlicensed and unregulated bike-taxi industry.
An amendment passed through the Seanad late last year which would open up the rickshaw industry to be regulated. Dublin City Council had tried to implement bylaws but were told they did not have the power to legislate in this case.
As things stand, gardaí can only treat the operators like they would any other cyclists. They can only be stopped and fined if they are seen breaking a red light or cycling without proper lights.
The department has yet to move on the matter, leading many on Dublin City Council to become frustrated with the inaction.
There have been number of crackdowns on the unregulated service in the last six months. Revenue, as well as gardaí, have been operating checkpoints in locations where the rickshaws are prominent. A number of the cyclists have been found to be dealing drugs on the side.
Green party councillor Ciarán Cuffe, with joint policing committee chair, Daithí De Róiste, intend to write to the NTA in the coming week with a view to starting proceedings to regulate or ban the rickshaws altogether.
There has been cross-party support from the ban at Seanad, Dáil and council level.
Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers and Sinn Féin senator Imelda Munster have both been campaigning for the regulation of the industry.
But committee chair De Róiste believes rickshaws should be banned outright if regulations prove too soft.
“I want to see them banned. What we need now is the transport minister to get actively involved in this. We have seen incidents of drug dealing and terrible injuries as a result of using these bike taxis. We would urge the minister to sit down with us as a matter of urgency.”
If an all-out ban is not considered feasible, then taxation and liability insurance could become mandatory and cyclists operating outside these rules would face serious penalties.
Last year, it emerged that Galway city councillors have already voted to ban rickshaws from all pedestrianised streets.
At the time, Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Crowe, who had made the proposal, said they were too dangerous and he had received complaints from local business people. He also said he believed the city’s medieval streets were too narrow for the wide bikes.
Though there is no specific regulation of rickshaws in Irish law, their drivers are still bound by road traffic legislation and they must obey the rules of the road. This means they are technically banned from pedestrian-only streets.
Written by Garreth MacNamee and posted on TheJournal.ie