Aldermen consider pedicab safety

On their 25th wedding anniversary, Mary and Peter Dzioba rode a pedicab down a steep Seattle hill in August 2008. But the pedicab’s brakes failed to stop at an intersection, she said, and the vehicle collided with a minivan, killing Peter.

Mary Dzioba, who now lives in Watertown, Conn., recounted this story Thursday before New Haven’s aldermanic city services and environmental policy committee, which is considering approving pedicabs in New Haven.

The committee’s chair, Ward 14 Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale, said the aldermen were moved by Dzioba’s testimony, and at the end of the meeting, the committee voted to amend an ordinance that established pedicabs in the city to include more safety regulations.

One member of a pedicab business that is pushing city officials to allow pedicabs on the streets said he was “shocked” by the testimony — and also surprised the aldermen mandated such changes.

“The nature of all transportation is for some sort of implicit problems to arise,” said John Binford MED ’12, who is working to create the pedicab business CaBike!, at the meeting. “If anything, her story indicates that there’s a need for safety regulations.”

Aaron Goode ’04, a friend of the CaBike! entrepreneurs, told the aldermen that pedicabs provide an opportunity to expand the city’s transportation options in an environmentally friendly way that also has a distinct character. Earlier this year, Binford and his business partners, Paul Hammer SOM ’85 and Jongwook Kim ’09, sought an ordinance from the Board of Aldermen to establish safety guidelines.

Although there is no legislation explicitly prohibiting pedicabs on the streets, Binford said he want to make sure city officials approved.

In formulating the ordinance, Sturgis-Pascale said, she attempted to strike a balance between regulating for safety and luring potential business operators.

But Dzioba said that city officials should create more safety regulations to prevent in New Haven incidents similar to her husband’s death in Seattle, where pedicabs are not regulated by the municipal government.

“Really think about whether New Haven needs [pedicabs],” she added. “I don’t think they’re safe for cities and city streets. On parks and boardwalks, they’re fine.”

The amendments approved at Thursday’s meeting added requirements for seat belts in pedicabs and the completion of an nine-hour training course for pedicab drivers that is taught by the League of American Bicyclists.

Although Binford said his company would have preferred to handle training internally, he and his partners will continue to press forward for pedicab operations in New Haven.

At this point, they are still working on raising the funds for the initial investment, Binford said. The group hopes to be operational in early 2010.

Comments

  • Anon GRD ’13

    I’d be much more interested in an analysis of how pedicabs may impact traffic than a single anecdotal tragedy.