After several months of negotiations, a San Francisco staff committee comprised of transportation engineers, planners, police and the fire department has adopted a new policy on approving pedicab routes, a complete about-face from existing policy that encourages pedicabs on many more streets than before, provided they don't interfere with transit lines.
The previous pedicab rules, initiated in 1986 and revised in 2000, were a litany of prohibitions against the pedal-powered cabs, isolating their use to a tiny portion of the Embarcadero. In contrast, the new rules adopted by the Transportation Advisory Staff Committee (TASC) on January 28th begin with a preamble that couldn't have been better written by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition:
It is in the interest of the City and TASC to facilitate new pedicab routes throughout the City and County of San Francisco. Pedicabs provide a convenient, emission and carbon-free alternative to private automobile use and advance the intent of the Transit First Policy and the General Plan of the City and County of San Francisco to provide priority to transportation modes other than the private automobile.
Under the new rules, rather than prohibit pedicabs, the city encourages their use on streets with wide curbside lanes and along any street striped with bicycle lanes in the Bicycle Plan network, which will grow significantly when the bicycle injunction is lifted later this year. Additionally, pedicab routes are to be approved on streets with low traffic volumes, streets with speed limits of 25 mph or less, and streets with a gradient of 8 percent or less.
The news couldn't be better for the new Golden Gate Pedicab company and its director, Justin Bruce, who moved to San Francisco from Boston in late 2008. Bruce, originally a driver for Boston Pedicab Company, never expected the lengthy process that has been required to do business in San Francisco.