- (Photo: NPS)
Pedicabs, expect your freedom on the National Mall to disappear soon.
The National Park Service has, after months of deliberation, come forth with its proposed rules and regulations for how pedicab operators must operate on the National Mall. Up until now, no specific rules have dictated the life of a National Mall pedicabber despite citations, arrests, and alleged harassment from U.S. Park Police over the last couple years. The new NPS rules propose specific routes for pedicabs around the Mall as well as specific stops that operators must adhere to. Operators must, according to new rules, "negotiate all fares prior to departing on your trip" and feature a sign saying as much on their vehicles.
Pedicabs will not, under these rules, be allowed on National Mall sidewalks or be allowed to park in parking meter zones, residential permit parking zones, valet parking zones, bus zones, taxicab zones, and sightseeing zones. Passengers need to be seated and wear seatbelts. Operators, get a battery-operated head lamp now if you don't have one already. Oh, and make sure you have a government-issued photo ID, too, because you'll need one. And turn lights. And reflectors for your wheel spokes. And reflective tape for the sides of your pedicab and "a triangle shaped Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem." And operators will ostensibly need to carry a copy of these Commercial Use Authorization rules with them at all times.
Again, however, these rules are drafts and not entirely final yet. The NPS is holding an open house meeting on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the National Capital Region Office Cafeteria, 1100 Ohio Drive, SW, Washington, D.C. The NPS will accept comments on these new rules up through the end of May 2, 2012. Take a look on its website here.
Although I understand the wisdom of some of these proposed rules, might some elements restrict how pedicabs work on the National Mall now? In the new scenario, pedicabs "would be required to be in the active process of transporting passengers, loading or unloading passengers or otherwise traveling with traffic" except at the designated standing and parking areas. Flexibility is limited. You can see some of NPS's planned stops on the map above and in greater detail in attachments on the NPS site.
The NPS has been planning these regulations for awhile and in the past, stated they would mirror the rules the District Department of Transportation released for pedicabbers last year. NPS superintendent Bob Vogel and spokeswoman Carol Johnson expressed enthusiasm about reaching out to pedicab operators and establishing a formal set of rules for reasons of safety and sensibility. Are these tentative regulations the appropriate welcome of pedicabs into the Mall's transportation ecosystem? NPS showed receptivity to Capital Bikeshare in recent months. Now comes the challege of pedicabs.