District regulates pedicabs, but will Park Service play along?


Robert Hart, a D.C. pedicab driver aggrieved by Park Police. (JOHN KELLY/THE WASHINGTON POST)

The D.C. transportation department last week issued final regulations for the burgeoning three-wheeled, human-powered transportation industry. Today, the agency tweaked the rules further.

Pretty much everything is common-sense stuff: Head lamps, tail lights and turn signals are required, as are bells and reflectors. Passengers must remain seated and wear seat belts, and drivers are restricted as to where they may pick up and drop off passengers and otherwise drive. Also prohibited: driving a pedicab while under the influence.

The rulemaking ends a process started more than a year ago with draft regulations. But it’s not the end of the story. Questions still remain about how the National Park Service will regulate pedicabs — particularly after a spate of publicity about a Park Police “crackdown” that some drivers say has bordered on harassment. The federal police force patrols the Mall and environs — popular territory for the pedicabbers, needless to say.

John Lisle, a spokesman for the transportation department, says the city has shared the new regulations with the Park Service, who are drafting rules of their own. He said their rules will “probably” be based on the city’s.

Not necessarily, says Park Service spokesman Bill Line: “We are looking at what the city has done,” he said. “But we are not bound and compelled by it. Safety always has been, always will be and must remain forever the No. 1 concern. Someone, frankly, could get killed.”

Park Service officials continue to review pedicab regulations internally, Line said, but no final decisions have been made.

“When we’re ready, we’ll let you know,” he said. “It’s much more important for the Park Service to get it right than hurry through something and get it wrong.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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