Prohibition of pedicabs in Barcelona

For over a year

the City Hall of Barcelona has declared the desire to prohibit pedicabs from operating in the city. On June the 20th of 2022 all the owners of registered pedicabs received an email that from stated that in order to operate a licence was needed. This was the first time that the City Hall of Barcelona communicated this need for a licence. The very next day the police of Barcelona started controlling this licence. Pedicabs that were not compliant were impounded. There are no operators in Barcelona in possession of the licence and no time was given to solicit it. So from one day to the next operators had to suspend their business and pedicabs disappeared from the streets of Barcelona.

This provisional ban on Pedicabs seems to be politically motivated as its mainly politicians of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) who have made an issue of prohibiting pedicabs in Barcelona in the media while other parties favour further regulation. Next year there will be elections. The provisional prohibition can be seen as a way to gain votes for these elections. In the media these politicians only highlight the negative impact that pedicabs have on the city. Positive facts are completely ignored. Conservative and sensationalist newspapers such as La Vanguardia and El Pais copy their press releases without asking any further questions.

To motivate the need for a prohibition the City Hall of Barcelona stated in the media that the sector is part of a shadow economy, that pedicabs are unsafe and a danger to the public order, are a form of unfair competition to local taxis, don’t add any special value, are an undesirable activity and that garages where Pedicabs are stored form fire hazards. Positive points such are that Pedicabs are ecological and way to visit the city, that there are operators who are fully complaint and operate their business in a legal way, that accidents are very rare, that it’s the best option available to for persons with limited mobility, families with small children or visitors with limited time to see the city, that most operators charge more than a taxi for their services.

A lack of regulation has led to a chaotic situation and saturation in the past years. In 2017 the city hall of Barcelona attempted to regulate the circulation of segways, electric scooters, pedicabs and cargo bikes. However they placed no limits on the amount of pedicabs that could be active in Barcelona. In the following years the market was flooded by cheap rickshaws produced in China, leading to over saturation. Some operators were willing to rent out their pedicabs to whoever was willing to pay the rent. Leading to drivers without experience and of dubious character taking over the streets. Drivers who don’t respect the public order, rules of traffic, compete with taxis and who drive around with loud obnoxious music even late at night. Causing obvious irritation with locals who are already tired of the negative impact that tourism has on their city. In 2019 various operators came together and held manifestations to ask the City Hall of Barcelona and Government of Catalonia to regulate the activity. The City Hall of Barcelona ignored this petition completely.

All this time there have also been operators and drivers operating legally and with respect for the public order. Aware of the impact that the activity can have if not properly conducted. Affected by the lack of regulation and saturation of the market by unfair competition by drivers operating on the brink of the law. Hoping that one day they sector would be properly regulated. The city council now has taken very drastic measures to assure the public order. Measures which might only have short term effect and not hold up in court. However in doing so also punished legal operators. Business owners and drivers who now find themselves out of business and a job from one day to the next. Their clients who reserved services in advance disappointed. The city deprived of an ecological and personal way to visit the city.

A year that promised to be an opportunity to recuperate to losses suffered during the Covid pandemic now turned into a déjà vu as pedicab operators find themselves without work from one day to the next yet for yet another year.