By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
The Daytona Beach City Commission has imposed new restrictions on pedicabs operating on the Boardwalk and beachside.
Pedicabs cannot operate on the Bandshell, Boardwalk or pier. They can only be in a pick up/drop off area of the pier designated by the city.
They also are prohibited during special events, summer weekends and holidays when police deem crowds large enough for the pedicabs not to be able to operate safely.
Pedicabs are specialized bikes that have carriage buggies attached to them that carry passengers.
There are two Orlando-based pedicab companies licensed to operate in Daytona Beach - Five Star Pedi and Redi Pedi.
The new restrictions are the result of some previous incidents.
"There were some drivers operating irresponsibly," said Paul McKitrick, Daytona Beach Deputy City Manager. "The police under the direction of Chief Michael Chitwood put forward an amendment with prohibitions on the Boardwalk and Bandshell. The City Commission believed that an outright ban was too strict and decided to immediately impose the restrictions with the cooperation of the pedicab companies."
There were documented complaints about the pedicabs hitting or nearly hitting pedestrians. There also was a complaint of a theft at one of the beachside shops.
Police also have cited pedicabs for carrying too many passengers and not properly being lighted and fighting behind the Bandshell.
The pedicab companies deny hitting people and stealing. One in particular assures that its drivers act accordingly and can handle themselves.
"When they first proposed the changes we were against it," said Catherine Ojeda, owner and operator Redi Pedi. "What's best about it is that it's not a total ban. It would be great not to have any restrictions. I believe that we can control and restrict ourselves without the need of the local government. I think that the problem arose from miscommunication with the police department and City Commission. I thought we were operating well," Ms. Ojeda said.
Despite the new restrictions the pedicab companies are still upbeat about being in the city.
"We are excited about the opportunity that we have. We would like to work with the city. We look forward to providing a great service in the city," Ms. Ojeda said.
Calls to Five Star Pedi weren't returned as of deadline. The pedicabs have been operating in the city since May. In the past, they have been at Daytona International Speedway for racing events.
The future of pedicabs operating in the city is safe for now, but more changes may occur in the future.
"I do think that there will be even more changes in the future," Ms. Ojeda said.
That future will depend upon the behavior and conduct of the pedicab drivers.
"Hopefully the drivers will improve their performances," Mr. McKitrick said.