If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Rickshaws - latest safety threat

The pedal-powered rickshaw (or pedicab as we must learn to call it) seems like a really good idea for city travel. The benefits include being pollution-free, quiet, cheap to buy and run (at least compared to a motor vehicle), and of course the operator gets to be incredibly fit. Plus it's a bit of a novelty: part of the gaiety of life, without which our years on this planet would be much less amusing.

Of course, sometimes accidents happen. In Edinburgh last weekend, an off-duty soldier fell from one, hit his head on the pavement, and sadly died. Now, it was the weekend, at 2.20 am, and the man was celebrating his birthday. I think it is safe to conclude that he would have been in a cheerful frame of mind. It would appear that he lost his footing when jumping off the pedicab to speak to a group of girls. One of those things, eh? No.


There are, apparently 'fresh safety fears' after the incident. Council leaders have 'pledged' to examine the regulations, and Councillor Colin Keir said the rules surrounding rickshaws needed to be made more robust.

“I would not want to comment on this particular incident. However, it is my intention to bring forward a review of how these things are licensed. I’m going to get officers to look at the legislation and how we can make it more robust. Hopefully it’s something we can tighten up."

You can almost hear him salivating at the prospect. That's the Labour viewpoint. The Tories are a bit more laid-back about it, surely?

Councillor Mark McInnes, the Tories’ transport spokesman, said it was time to tighten up the health and safety laws surrounding the trade. He said: “The council needs to be proactive like it would be with any other form of transport as we’ve now seen, very sadly, how accidents can happen.”

The problem is, of course, that the cabs are not motorised, and therefore do not need to be licensed in the way that taxicabs are. So there you have the perfect representation of modern Britain: if anything goes wrong, it's never the fault of the person involved; it's never just one of those things; it's never part of the risk we take when we choose mobility and involvement and fun over sitting at home with our Playstations. It's because THERE AREN'T ENOUGH LAWS. THERE ISN'T ENOUGH REGULATION.

I have to be fair to the council. There was another serious accident involving a pedicab back in 2001. There's a trend. Something must be done. Will no-one think of the children?

That's two in nine years. I wonder how many people were killed in cars (or, to be fair, on motorbikes) over the same period? Prepare to see this innocent, attractive and environmentally-friendly transport solution legislated out of existence within a few months.

What a shame that will be.

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