Netizen 24 IRL: Rickshaw ban set to be proposed over safety concerns

Posted by On 6:32 AM

Rickshaw ban set to be proposed over safety concerns

Transport Minister Shane Ross has proposed a ban on rickshaws to allay any risk they cause to public safety.

The minister was before the Oireachtas Transport Committee to discuss the issue of regulation of rickshaws which are now a popular form of transport in Dublin and a number of cities around the country.

Safety concerns have been raised around the vehicles leading to calls for them to be regulated. Minister Ross confirmed to the committee that he will consult with the Attorney General about the possibility of imposing an outright ban on rickshaws.

Minister Ross said he has "deep concerns about public safety with rickshaws on our streets."

He will cited examples such as "blocking footpaths and forcing pedestrians onto the road. Weaving recklessly in and out of traffic. Little or no heed for the rules of the road. Breaking red lights. Driving the wrong way up a one-way street. Transporting passengers with little care for their safety."

There have been collisions involving rickshaws and a recent National Transport Authority (NTA) survey revealed "57% of rickshaw passengers as reporting accidents or near misses. This is a shocking statistic."

The minister accepts that many in the rickshaw industry have no involvement in criminality, but he said "it is a fact that over the past 18 months 154 rickshaw drivers have been arrested in relation to Section 15 Misuse of Drugs Act - possession of a controlled drug for sale or supply - while operating as a rickshaw driver in the Pearse Street District alone. This is not acceptable."

The NTA undertook a public consultation on regulation of rickshaws last autumn.

"The NTA consultation process reaffirmed many of the concerns that had been raised with me - issues like dangerous behaviour on public roads, lack of lighting, no insurance, illegal use of rickshaws in pedestrian zones, obstruction to buses as well as blocking taxis from taxi ranks," the minister said.

Concern about the lack of a transparent fare structure were also highlighted in the public consultation which found that 44% of passengers in the survey reported issues with rickshaw charges.

The minister said, "It is clear to me that the choice is between a full and effective licensing regime and complete prohibition. Retaining the status quo is not an option."

Minister Ross said: "New Legislation would be needed but enforcement of a ban should cost significantly less than implementing a full new regulatory regime. We would still have to define the rickshaw vehicle in law, and provide for detention powers. But this would involve a much simpler piece of legislation. Enforcement should also be less resource-intensive - the NTA would not need extra staff. And Gardaí could be empowered to act decisively when coming upon a rickshaw on a public road."

He did acknowledge that "some members of the public would be inconvenienced. And it is true that with a ban - our cities could miss out on the sense of adventure and fun that rickshaws can bring."

It is estimated that there are around 1,000 rickshaws in operation in Dublin.

Minister Ross said he will consult with the Attorney General about the possibility of imposing an outright ban on rickshaws.

An RTÉ Prime Time programme earlier this year highlighted the issue of drug dealing by some rickshaw drivers.

The NTA undertook a public consultation on regulation of rickshaws last autumn.

Transport Committee Chairperson Fergus O'Dowd asked if people who have invested money in rickshaw businesses would have grounds to make compensations claims if a ban was introduced.

Minister Ross said that is one of the issues that the Attorney General is looking at and all options are being considered.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock pointed to reports of "widespread drug dealing out of these vehicles" and asked the minister if he is personally in favour of a rickshaw ban?

Deputy Rock said the idea of regulation for such a small industry is "deeply impractical" and he said that he has never been in another European city where rickshaws are operated in such a haphazard manner.

The minister said this is principally a matter of public safety and that his instinct was that the best option is that they should not be operating.

He said the most sensible way to stop that is to prohibit them but if regulation was practical then that could be looked at as well.

He said he does not want to introduce a measure into the Dáil which would be defeated.

He added, "I have to bear in mind that the consultation of over 4,000 people came in decisively that people wanted ric kshaws banned."

Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy said: "I am not convinced that an outright ban is the right way to go and there may be merit in regulation."

He said rickshaws are an eco-friendly form of public transport and present huge opportunities. He accused the minister of being lazy by opting for a ban.

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster adopted a similar tone and asked how other countries appear to have regulated for rickshaws. She questioned why they cannot be regulated in Ireland and asked, "Is it just pure laziness?"

She said that proposals for regulating the industry have been with the minister for 18 months and now he is proposing an outright ban.

Deputy Munster said the minister is taking the lazy option instead of regulating and keeping up with other countries.

Responding to questions from Solidarity/PBP TD Mick Barry, Minister Ross told the committee that he recently took a few late night journeys on Dublin rick shaws.

He said, "I was pretty shocked because it confirmed everything that I had heard about. They charged me €10 from George's Street to Stephen's Green. The driver certainly broke traffic lights willy nilly. It wasn't very comfortable."

He said he got another one and when he asked what the fair would be the rickshaw driver said "It's whatever you like, which was extraordinary. And this person broke every rule in the book."

Source: Google News

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