London is cracking down on pedicabs and rickshaws: everything you need to know

Ever walked through the West End and found the sound of Britney Spears, the Black Eyed Peas or Abba speedily hurtling towards you? Pretty much all of us will have encountered Zone 1’s fluorescent, pounding herds of pedicabs, which swerve through the streets of central London – but a new bill will soon entirely change how they operate.  

Back in November, it was announced that there could soon be restrictions to curb pedicabs’ activity and completely take unlicensed operators off the streets. And yesterday (March 28), that plan was backed by Parliament. 

The legislation, which means tourists will no longer be ripped-off (one poor dude was apparently once charged £500 for a 10-minute journey), is the result of a decade of campaigning. Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken told the Standard: ‘The new law will provide TfL with the ability to licence [the pedicabs] and ensure the drivers and vehicles are safe, no loud music can be played and a clear fare structure in place.’

During peak season, around 900 pedicabs operate in central London, but neither the operating companies or the drivers require a licence. What’s more, TfL doesn’t currently have the means to regulate the pedicabs, and the police have few powers to control them properly. 

And sure, the vehicles are not always a nuisance. MP Sir Christopher Chope said: ‘Pedicabs are to London what gondolas are to Venice, an essential part of the colour and vibrancy of our capital city… they are a bit of fun and recreation.’

But what’s better than fun? Regulated fun! The new bill should also hopefully put a stop to the traffic problems caused by pedicab drivers, who often ignore one-way systems or park in bus lanes. The bill still needs to get Royal Assent, but is expected to come into force in a number of months, if not weeks. 

London’s pedicabs on Time Out

The fur-covered, music-blasting pedicabs and rickshaws have been a chaotic trait of central London’s streets for years. We at Time Out covered the first attempts to curb them back in 2022, and even took a ride in one ourselves, which you can read all about here

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