Team 10: Are San Diego pedicabs safe?

Posted at 8:42 AM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 21:56:04-04

SAN DIEGO - With the MLB All-Star Game right around the corner, Team 10 is taking a closer look at one method of transportation fans may use to get around, the pedicab.

The question Team 10 is asking: Are pedicabs safe?

Team 10 investigator Allison Ash checked into pedicab citations over the past year, and she found that although there are regulations, they're not always followed.

Cellphone video shows a smiling tourist from Korea enjoying a pedicab ride near Seaport Village in October 2014. Then it shows the driver making a sharp turn. The tourist fell to the pavement and injured one of her ankles.

The young woman's attorney said she was not buckled in. The pedicab driver gave the woman an apology, but when her attorney tried to file a lawsuit to pay her medical bills, the driver had vanished, and his company's address was a vacant downtown apartment.

"It becomes a very big concern," said attorney David Lee, "Because there's sort of this expectation that if you take a pedicab in downtown, that not only is it being run by a legitimate business, but that it's being policed by the appropriate governmental authorities. Unfortunately, in our experience, that hasn't been the case."

Last year, the city of San Diego began a crackdown on problem drivers and unsafe rigs. The city assigned a police officer in the vice unit to check licensing, make sure the drivers passed criminal background checks, and that the bicycles outfitted with passenger seating had the proper safety equipment.

Team 10 asked to see the number of citations issues to pedicab drivers in the past year. There were 48 citations, with 14 of them issued to drivers who did not have the proper permits required by the city. Eleven didn't have working seatbelts, which are required; and 10 pedicabs had no proof of liability insurance.

So how can passengers tell if a pedicab is safe? First, by looking for a current license on the vehicle, then by checking to make sure the driver has a picture ID, and that the seatbelts are working.

The biggest complaint most people have with pedicabs isn't safety -- it's inconsistent fares and price-gouging. Ali Horuz, who owns V.I.P. Pedicabs told Team 10, "Our hands are tied."

Horuz said a small group of drivers make the rest of the pedicab industry look bad by inflating fares when riders get to their destination. Horuz and several drivers told us its always best to negotiate the fare before stepping into the pedicab.

One driver suggested paying with a credit card, so you can fight any excessive charges with the help of your bank.

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