London rickshaw driver fined for "furious driving" after racing on busy West End street

Prosecutors use 19th Century Act to bring charge, Boris promises to get tough on rickshaws

by Simon_MacMichael   April 11, 2012  

Gavel

The driver of a London rickshaw has been fined £100 and has to pay costs totalling a further £145 after being caught racing another rickshaw along a busy street in the West End.

Md Islam, aged 21, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to a charge brought under section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839.

That legislation, originally designed to address the “furious riding” of horse-drawn carts, is now being used by police to address issues related to rickshaws - also known as pedicabs - reports the London Evening Standard.

The Act makes it an offence to be engaged in the  “riding or driving furiously such as to endanger the life or limb of any person, or to the common danger of the passengers in the thoroughfare.”

Prosecutor Rav Chodha told the court: “The defendant had passengers in his pedicab and the nature of his driving, weaving in and out of heavy traffic, was causing a danger to both passengers and other road users.”

She said that the passengers in his rickshaw at the time of the incident on the evening of 23 March had been “screaming and shouting,” and were also attempting to slap the hands of those in the other rickshaw.

“The defendant was observed for some time and then stopped and arrested,” she added.

District Judge Michael Snow told Islam that he was fortunate not to have faced more serious charges, saying, “This has been under-charged; this was potentially very serious.

“Cycling like this through central London with passengers, and putting passengers, pedestrians and drivers at risk is clearly very serious,” he added.

Islam, of East Ham, admitted breaching section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 and besides the £100 fine has to pay £85 costs, a £15 victim surcharge and £45 to Westminster City Council for storing his rickshaw.

The Evening Standard reports that police are currently clamping down on rickshaw drivers in the West End, and quoted a senior officer as saying that since there was no legislation specific to the vehicles, it was “using the tools available.”

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, which represents London’s black cab drivers, has campaigned for rickshaws to be banned from the capital’s streets. The London Pedicab Operators Association, meanwhile, is lobbying for licensing to be introduced, rather than rickshaws being banned outright.

In his Transport Manifesto for next month’s mayoral elections, current Mayor of London Boris Johnson says that it is out of his power to take such action, but adds that he does intend to tackle the issue if re-elected.

“Rickshaws, or pedicabs, have proliferated in central London in recent years. Unregulated, often uninsured, usually over-priced and frequently dangerous, they have attracted increasing complaints from other road users about their behaviour and about the many close misses that have nearly costs lives,’ his manifesto says.

“The Mayor does not have the powers to ban them, but I am already using the powers I do have to crack down on badly conducted rickshaws in London. I will do so increasingly in partnership with other agencies, such as the UK Border Agency and HM Revenue and Customs.”
 

7 user comments

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My Grandfather was fined for "Pedaling Furiously" in the 1940's on a hill in Hampshire. I'm quite proud of that!

posted by meehaja [27 posts]
11th April 2012 - 10:49

2 Likes

I'm not a great fan of pedicabs but do they really deserve such attention from a supposedly overstretched Met? Pedicabs are slow. The 'cabbie' might have been pedalling furiously but he was probably going all of 7mph.

"...and about the many close misses that have nearly costs lives..."

So they haven't cost lives? Why not focus on motorised vehicles, including dodgy mini-cabs jumping reds and speeding to get their next fare?

posted by Coleman [330 posts]
11th April 2012 - 11:46

1 Like

Coleman wrote:
I'm not a great fan of pedicabs but do they really deserve such attention from a supposedly overstretched Met? Pedicabs are slow. The 'cabbie' might have been pedalling furiously but he was probably going all of 7mph.

"...and about the many close misses that have nearly costs lives..."

I worked on a contract in an office on Oxford Street most of last year and coming out of work, if I wasnt harassed by those guys touting for fares when I went out to lunch, then they would block up the road, make manoeuvres without looking and generally be a nuisance.

Coleman wrote:
So they haven't cost lives? Why not focus on motorised vehicles, including dodgy mini-cabs jumping reds and speeding to get their next fare?

They havent cost lives yet but the focus should be on the PCO barring minicab and black cab drivers that are reported for RLJ, abusive language, bad driving and threatening violence. You only have to watch cyclegaz's youtube channel to see ample evidence of all of that.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [630 posts]
11th April 2012 - 14:16

3 Likes

shouldn't the fine have been three groats or half a farthing if the law dates from 1839?

posted by wild man [290 posts]
11th April 2012 - 20:00

1 Like

Nah, transport him to OZ.

Manglier's picture

posted by Manglier [83 posts]
12th April 2012 - 10:41

2 Likes

At the Evening Standard debate last night both Brian Paddick and Ken Livingstone supported an outright ban (needing Parliamentary legislation), Jenny Jones supported licensing, and Boris gave a nuanced answer very similar to the one in the article.

Personally I believe pedicabs should be allowed, but regulated, the LTDA appears to be afraid of competition.

You can get the LTDA's take here: http://www.ltda.co.uk/bandontlicense.htm

posted by Henz [46 posts]
12th April 2012 - 11:05

2 Likes

Having lived for some years just off Oxford Street, I know the pedicabs well. As Coleman points out, they just don't go very fast and as such are way, way down the threat hierarchy for pedestrians and cyclists alike. This smacks to me of mutual backscratching between the Met and LTDA.

posted by steff [81 posts]
12th April 2012 - 15:42

1 Like