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Should Orange County regulate pedicabs?

Some say uninsured, unregulated pedicabs put people in danger

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"We have staff members who go out every day to make sure businesses have their receipts," Randolph says. "After that, all we can do is issue a citation. I'm not sure we have the statutory authority to regulate whether businesses have insurance. Our job is to simply collect the taxes and enforce the business tax receipts."

Owner of I-Drive's Redi Pedi Cab Co. and veteran pedicab driver Catherine Ojeda is fed up with footing the bill to run a responsible business while riders without insurance poach her customers.

"Uninsured drivers cannot be overlooked," Ojeda says. "Is it right that a pedicabber can ride under the influence? Something has to be done to protect consumers and the businesses that are trying to do what's right."

Ojeda says customers approach her cabs before others because of how presentable and professional her drivers and cabs look.

Independent pedicab operators don't all agree with Ojeda's assessment and think it should be up to the consumer, not the government, to decide with whom they should spend their money. "Like operating any vehicle, some people have insurance and others don't," says independent pedicab driver Marty Keer. "It's just easier for drivers to make money doing it on their own and not having to pay for insurance."

Recognizing the potential danger to consumers, Lt. Vincent Van Ness and Deputy Garreth Bender of the Orange County Sheriff's Office have requested assistance from the Orange County Tax Collector's Office to help enforce laws against pedicab drivers operating without proper local business tax receipts.

"We will be looking into how we can work with the sheriff's office to create some form of regulations on pedicabs," Randolph says.

Additionally, the Orange County Sheriff's Office has begun discussions with Ojeda and other International Drive business owners about petitioning the Board of County Commissioners to create an ordinance similar to that of the city of Orlando addressing non-motorized vehicles.

Until recently, County District 6 Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell hadn't heard anything negative about the pedicab business. Now, the issue is on her radar.

"My office is looking into the matter," she says. "I want to create an ordinance that addresses all transportation on International Drive. I will look at a whole list of perspectives when it comes to the transportation we provide guests of our district."

When asked about the timeline for the implementation of such an ordinance, Russell says that after the issue is brought up for open discussion at one of the upcoming board meetings, it generally takes two to four months for the legal department to draft the ordinance language and for a hearing to be held.

"I will, however, draft a memo that will be given to the mayor and each board member so that they are aware I want to address this issue," she says.

Ojeda remains skeptical that anything will happen.

"No one is going to waste time trying to reform the pedicab industry," she says. "Business owners need to realize that in any instance where new ordinances are being put in place or laws are changing, they're not going to get everything they want."

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