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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Rickshaw passengers 'are at risk'
Rickshaw in London's Soho
Most rickshaw drivers are safe, but MPs have safety concerns
Passengers on London's rickshaws are being put at risk, a minister calling for regulation has warned.

Transport Minister Gillian Merron said it was "necessary and desirable" the pedal taxi industry was regulated.

Ms Merron's statement was in response to calls from Tory MP Mark Field that London's streets were becoming a "dangerous free for all".

But she said licences were a matter for Transport for London (TfL) and the Taxi Licensing Authority.

The streets of Soho and Covent Garden have become a dangerous free for all
MP Mark Field

Mr Field, the MP for Cities of London and Westminster, said in a Westminster Hall debate it was "matter of when rather than if" a serious accident or fatality involving a London rickshaw took place.

Mr Field said he wanted checks to make sure rickshaw drivers did not have criminal records, and also wanted drivers to be tested on road safety and their knowledge of London streets.

He said: "The streets of Soho and Covent Garden have become a dangerous free for all.

"I worry that it is now a matter of when rather than if a serious accident, perhaps even a fatality, will occur on one of the unlicensed rickshaws or pedicabs that proliferate so strikingly in London's thoroughfares."

'Proper system desirable'

One London pedicab driver has been convicted of raping a passenger.

Mr Field added: "Further anecdotal evidence suggests that riders include illegal immigrants, foreign students who are ignoring the terms under which they are in the country by working longer hours than allowed and others who - under any sensible licensing regime - would be considered unsuitable for this kind of work."

Ms Merron replied: "Provided they are properly regulated and managed the government does believe that pedicabs have a role to play in transport provision."

She added: "A proper system of regulation in London is both necessary and desirable."


SEE ALSO
Pedicabs win cab court fight
12 Nov 03 |  London
Rickshaws can stay
07 Mar 03 |  England
Cab firm challenges royal ban
28 Oct 02 |  England

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