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The Pedicabs (London) Bill [HL] 2023-2024, Bill 163, was first introduced in the House of Lords on 8 November 2023. It received second reading in the Commons on 28 February 2024. Committee and remaining stages will be in the chamber on 26 March 2024.

The Bill would give powers to Transport to London (TfL) to regulate pedicabs. Sometimes also known as cycle rickshaws. In the Bill, a pedicab is defined as [PDF]:

a pedal cycle, or a pedal cycle in combination with a trailer, that is constructed or adapted for carrying one or more passengers and is made available with a driver for hire or reward.

Closing a “legal loophole” in London

While the pedicab industry has some voluntary codes of practice for its drivers, there is no legal provision for TfL to regulate pedicabs in the same way that it already regulates taxis and private hire vehicles in London.

The Bill seeks to close what the transport committee of the London Assembly [PDF] has called a “legal loophole” that has allowed pedicabs to “flourish” in London, and not in other parts of the UK where they can be regulated under taxi legislation.

In London, taxis are governed by the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 (the 1869 Act). Past court judgments have determined that pedicabs are not considered as taxis and are instead considered as stage carriages in London under section 4 of the 1869 Act. However, section 4 is no longer in force, with the result that London pedicabs are unregulated.  

The Government’s accompanying notes to the 2023 King’s Speech said the Bill was needed to ensure passengers are safe and protected from high fares, and that pedestrians and other road-users are protected against unruly behaviour by some pedicab drivers.

The Bill follows several failed attempts to legislate on this issue through private members’ bills, the most recent of which was led by Nickie Aiken MP’s Pedicabs (London) Bill (2021-2022) which did not receive a second reading.

Extent and application of the Bill

Although the Bill would extend to England and Wales, the measures would apply only in Greater London.

The Bill has eleven clauses, most of which concern the creation of a regulatory regime for pedicabs, to be administered by TfL. The Bill makes some consequential amendments to the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.

Consideration in the Commons

The Bill had its second reading in the Commons chamber on 28 February 2024, where it was passed without a division. Shadow transport minister Simon Lightwood confirmed that the Labour party supported the Bill, which was “long overdue”. Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat Business spokesperson,  said that the Liberal Democrats supported it too.

Consideration in the Lords

At committee stage in the Lords, two Government amendments were approved, which expanded the meaning of a pedicab “trailer” to include sidecars or vehicles pushed by pedal cycles.

At report stage three more Government amendments were approved. One amendment means that pedicab regulations would no longer be subject to any form of parliamentary procedure, bringing them into line with TfL’s existing taxi and private higher vehicle  regulations, which do not require parliamentary approval.

Another amendment means the Secretary of State for Transport could issue guidance to TfL on making pedicab regulations and that TfL must have regard to this guidance. A third amendment clarified that pedicab regulations could include provisions about making noise.  

Reaction to the Bill

The announcement of the Bill in the King’s Speech was welcomed by MPs Paul Scully (Con) and Nickie Aiken (Con), both proponents of previous private members’ bills on the subject.

The Local Government Association  said the Bill would “improve the safety of passengers”. It was also welcomed by Westminster City Council whose leader, Adam Hug, said that the council had been calling for action to regulate pedicabs “for years”.

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