- (Photo: John Hendel)
Last week the National Park Service released a tentative draft of the regulations that will dictate pedicab life on the National Mall. Tuesday evening the federal organization asked pedicab operators for their feedback at the NPS headquarters and received plenty— dozens of operators showed up, and NPS, to their great credit, presented the regulations as clearly as possible, with three presentation stations, repeated invitations for comment, and a persistent acknowledgment that these regulations are still evolving and ready for discussion. On the NPS cafeteria table were many copies of proposed pedicab routes, stations, and copies of the rules, with more than a half dozen officials on hand to answer questions. Shortly after 6 p.m., Bob Vogel, the NPS superintendent of the National Mall, called the meeting to order and explained the ideas behind the tentative regulations. NPS will accept comments through May 2, and although NPS officials hesitate to pin down specific dates, they hope to enact new pedicab regulations by the beginning of June.
"We also want to listen to you," Vogel told the pedicab operators. "We want to offer a wide range of transportation options for our visitors."
Capital Bikeshare's arrival on the Mall, Vogel continued, has been a "tremendous success," with three stations open and two more to come. He wants NPS to continue as "an advocate for pedicabs."
What will all these rules mean? As proposed, they demand that operators stick to the stations and routes, negotiate fares before passengers board, carry a photo ID, keep to certain pedicab standards and certain behaviors (no drunk pedicabbing!), and perhaps most controversially, carry some form of insurance. Many pedicab companies already feature some element of insurance for their operators for purposes of accountability, background checks, and so on. Pedicabs will need general liability insurance: "The policy shall be in the amount of $1,000,000 combined single limit, applying to bodily injury and property damage claims, and underwritten by a United States company naming the United States of America (National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks) as additional insured." But what about independent operators? Under new rules, according to NPS concessions specialist Gordy Kito, an independent operator's insurance would run about $800 to $1,200. The details of these insurance provisions are, however, very much evolving, he told me.
- Bob Vogel speaks. (Photo: John Hendel)
"The insurance is the key point as of now, but we are working towards a
resolution on it with our broker and underwriter," Ben Morris, the San Francisco-based owner of National Pedicabs, told me by e-mail. He and Kito have already begun talking through the insurance rules. "I anticipate this process still has several more weeks if not months to fully resolve itself. Time will tell."