Piss off environmentalists and pedicab to save the planet

Nothing makes rich liberals turn up their noses more than poor people trying their hand at “green” capitalism without their help – and hence the silence from the environmental press on Santa Monica’s recently enacted pedicab licensing program. The class issues in America’s environmental movement are so deep that there is a special category for environmental issues for the poor (i.e. “environmental justice”). We seem to be so wound up over high tech “solutions” that maintain the status quo of high class lifestyles that only transportation nerds seem to be the ones covering the slow pedicab business growth across the state of California.

Want to piss off the richie rich “solar panel/electric car/iPhones will save us” types even more? Follow these easy steps in the California city of your choosing:

  • Cull the best of local ordinances regulating pedicabs into a California-legal packet. Try copying and pasting Santa Monica’s laws.
  • Apply for a business license in a tourist-tap city that has no pedicab regulations. With no regulations for pedicabs the city has, literally, no legal standing to block your permit!
  • If the city grants you a business permit, operate away.
  • If the city denies your permit, take them to court – they will most likely have no grounds on which to deny your application to do business as well as totally lack any pedicab regulations.
  • Just before you file your papers in court, offer the city council your pedicab regulation ordinance packet and say, “Hey, we could avoid this whole mess if you’d implement this state-of-the-industry legal packet. It is set up to make your city money, protect you from political blow back, and it will allow us to conduct business without a costly lawsuit.”
  • Secure financing for a fleet of pedicabs
  • Wait a few months for city staff to study the regulations, make your recommendations, and be the first in line to have your fleet of licensed, insured, trained, pedicab operators riding the streets of said tourist-trap town picking up fares.

Way to stick it to the elites! Your on-the-ground “green” transportation is providing real, working class, jobs without any of that tainted federal or state subsidy money the high tech crowd slurps up for their expensive and brittle projects that prop up business as usual. You have low capital costs, a high amount of personal freedom, and are bootstrapping your way to the environmentally sound future we get promised with each new generation of smart phones.

Why will this approach work? A similar approach worked in Santa Monica! A pedicab company applied for a business license and the city could find no legal grounds with which to deny the permit. The city then worked for a few months creating regulations. How is the city allowed to regulate a bicycle-like device on public streets (something normally the sole domain of the state)?

In September 2010, in response to active lobbying by the City of San Diego, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 2294, sponsored by San Diego Assemblymember Marty Block. AB 2294 amended the Vehicle Code to grant authority to municipalities to regulate pedicabs.

State law authorization for local pedicab regulation is somewhat vague and untested. Vehicle Code Section 21100(n) specifically authorizes local legislation to require pedicab drivers to 1) possess a valid California driver’s license; 2) complete a bicycle safety training course; and 3) complete a California driver’s license examination. While courts are likely to take a dim view toward local legislation that duplicates or conflicts with the Vehicle Code, it is unclear how a court would react to local law that supplements the Vehicle Code in the pedicab area.
– Salvador M. Valles, Business & Revenue Operations Manager , CIty of Santa Monica, City Council Meeting: April 9, 2013, Agenda Item: 7-D, Introduction and first reading of an Ordinance adding Santa Monica Municipal Code Chapter 6.50 to establish pedicab regulations, amend Section 3.12.550

Presto! A few months later, in July of 2013 (about one year after this whole thing kicked off in Santa Monica), the first licensed pedicab company in Santa Monica hit the streets using safe, fun, and insured bicycle taxis.

p.s. Los Angeles is a special case because it is a city with pedicab regulations, but those regulations: (a) are enforced through nonpersons at the LADOT who invent new conditions to approve pedicab licenses in order to deny them; (b) are totally impracticable.

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