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Tourists charged 2,700 per cent more by ‘rogue’ London pedicab drivers

Pedicabs block roads in the West End  (Westminster Council)
Pedicabs block roads in the West End (Westminster Council)

Tourists are being charged almost £42 a mile for short pedicab rides through central London.

Westminster City Council say rogue drivers rip off visitors by demanding almost 2,757 per cent more than if they took a bus.

A journey of 1.2 miles from Westminster Bridge to Victoria Station in a rickshaw costs £50.

But it would be £1.75 on the No 148 – or free if the distance is simply walked.

Pedicab operators continue to cause serious problems across Westminster by blocking pavements, playing loud music, not respecting the Highway Code and charging excessive fares.

In July, Belgian tourist April Argenau was billed £464 for a seven-minute, mile-long pedicab ride from Oxford Street to the Royal Lancaster hotel.

When Mrs Argenau, complained she felt threatened by the driver, demanding immediate payment.

After she paid, he disappeared purposely avoiding the hotel’s CCTV cameras.

Licensed Taxi Drivers Association chair Steve McNamara described it as “a national disgrace” and said the organisation received daily reports of people being scammed.

Enforcement officers talk to pedicab operators (Evening Standard)
Enforcement officers talk to pedicab operators (Evening Standard)

Cllr Aicha Less, deputy leader and cabinet member for public protection and licensing, called on the government to introduce a Transport Bill setting out clearer guidelines on licensing and regulation.

Pedicabs have no specific safety requirements, with zero checks on drivers, vehicles or insurance.

There’s no regulated pricing for passengers, so even if they advertise one price, nothing stops them charging over the original amount.

Despite limited powers, Westminster has secured convictions against 40 drivers, taken the details of 80 others and achieved £30,000 in fines, costs and victim surcharges.

Ms Less added: “These ludicrous prices prey on unsuspecting tourists wanting to enjoy London’s landmarks and reinforce the need for stricter controls on pedicabs.

“We are working with the Metropolitan Police and businesses to educate visitors of the dangers of using rip off rickshaws.

“However, until there is support from the Department of Transport in the form of a Transport Bill, our crackdown on operators will only go so far.

“To put it simply, they need to be licensed.”

The council warns the issue is not exclusive to London’s West End.

A spokesman said: “Tourists should be careful that getting a pedicab, which is unsafe and unlicensed, can cost them more than their day out.”