Although this pedicab driver is taking a break from pedaling, he seems to be quite busy. A master of multitasking, he is listening to music, smoking a cigarette, and checking his phone- maybe his Instagram- as cars, cabs and buses whiz by in the background.
Pedicabs became part of New York City’s transportation options in the 1990s, at the time partly as an inexpensive option to cabs and carriage rides. But as might be expected in a city that seems to run on hustle, some drivers figured out how to charge a lot- in some cases, more than a helicopter ride.
In the past few years a couple infamous scams received a lot of attention in the city. In the summer of 2012 a Texas couple and their two daughters were charged $442.54 on a ride of 14 blocks, when after the ride the driver added his minimum charge of $100 per person. The following summer, a couple visiting from Japan were charged $720 for a 20-minute ride.
Reforms were finally made, to avoid the confusing hodgepodge of costs per long or short block, number of passengers, and whatever tiny fine print the drivers could squeeze onto their signs. In spite of laws charging flat fees by the minute, some corruption continues. Less than a year ago, on New Year’s Eve, a driver charged a couple and their daughter $165 for 15 blocks, illegally adding a per rider charge. Although travel websites have many happy stories of positive rides, when I saw an $8/minute sign on the pedicabs I noticed, I settled on the bus or my own two feet as the best way to get around town. Be warned, if you take a pedicab you may be taken for a ride in more ways than one.