Greater Greater Washington

Weekend links: Development delays


Photo by dougww on Flickr.
Waterfront on ice: Alexandria's waterfront plan is on hold, yet again, after opponents won a procedural appeal over whether the city council needed more votes than the 5-2 they had. (Post)

Residents don't get to speak on Cafritz: Procedural arguments from the two sides bogged down a Prince George's council meeting on the Cafritz development, and many people who'd taken the day off to testify didn't get a chance. The council will meet again April 30 to hear from residents. (Gazette)

Orange wins: Vincent Orange appears to have won the Democratic nomination for at-large DC council. A strong showing in provisional and absentee ballots pushed his lead over Sekou Biddle to nearly 3%. (Post)

"One City" line?: DDOT suggests calling the streetcar line that will stretch from Benning Road to Washington Circle the One City Line. Following some criticism, officials clarified that it's just a working title. (DCist, City Paper)

Bike bits: Biking on Arlington trails doubled in some places from February to March. (CommuterPageBlog) ... NPS released draft pedicab rules for public comment. (TBD) ... CaBi will now sell helmets and offer a payment plan for annual memberships. (Post)

Work for, live in Arlington: Only 25% of Arlington employees live in the county. The board is considering a one-time grant for them to buy houses in the county. (Patch)

Augmented reality to the rescue: Residents often fear a building's massing and height. Researchers in Finland hope showing the building in augmented reality will better inform people about how a project will truly look. (Atlantic Cities)

Walking: Retailers and road design: In part 3 of Tom Vanderbilt's Slate series on walking, Harriet Tregoning says retailers know their car counts in detail, but give blank stares when asked about the number of bus passengers who ride by a location.

Part 4 discusses the sordid history of why mid-century road designers didn't build sidewalks, didn't make bus stops accessible to pedestrians, and even started thinking of sidewalks and pedestrians to "shield cars from the danger of the trees."

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

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Pedicabs will not, under these rules, be allowed on National Mall sidewalks or be allowed to park in parking meter zones, residential permit parking zones, valet parking zones, bus zones, taxicab zones, and sightseeing zones. Passengers need to be seated and wear seatbelts. Operators, get a battery-operated head lamp now if you don't have one already. Oh, and make sure you have a government-issued photo ID, too, because you'll need one. And turn lights. And reflectors for your wheel spokes. And reflective tape for the sides of your pedicab and "a triangle shaped Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem." And operators will ostensibly need to carry a copy of these Commercial Use Authorization rules with them at all times.

This is a classic case of government regulation run amuck, hurting small businesses.

by Falls Church on Apr 14, 2012 3:57 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church "This is a classic case of government regulation run amuck, hurting small businesses."

Specifically, what about these regs do you find unreasonable? Just wondering cause just about everything you mentioned (except carrying the rules) are things I'd ALREADY be expecting these carriers to be doing out of common sense .... Is there anything really new in these regs?

by Lance on Apr 14, 2012 5:02 pm • linkreport

@ Lance

1) It should be up to the passengers whether they wear seat belts

2) Why a head lamp (which btw, must project light to 300 feet)? Why not a clip on light? Why are the regulations so prescriptive as to exactly what methods (and how those methods are applied -- e.g., going as far as to specificy the dimensions of reflective tape that must be used) pedicab operators should use to ensure they are visible?

3) Turn lights? Why can't they signal by hand like every other biker?

4) SMV emblem? Is it not totally obvious that pedicabs move more slowly than cars?

Finally, DC already has pedicab regulations. NPS is just adding an additional (and unnecessary and redundant) set of regulations that are overlapping and not coordinated with DC. Why isn't there just one uniform set of regulations? This is in direct violation of Obama's Executive Order 13563 -- Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review. It states:

Integration and Innovation. Some sectors and industries face a significant number of regulatory requirements, some of which may be redundant, inconsistent, or overlapping. Greater coordination across agencies could reduce these requirements, thus reducing costs and simplifying and harmonizing rules. In developing regulatory actions and identifying appropriate approaches, each agency shall attempt to promote such coordination, simplification, and harmonization. Each agency shall also seek to identify, as appropriate, means to achieve regulatory goals that are designed to promote innovation.

The NPS regulations stifle innovation rather than promote it as pedicabs are an innovative answer to the problems of poor air quality and oil dependency.

Finally, are these regulations meant to address an immediate and pressing safety concern? If there's been a rash of pedicab accidents/injuries, I certainly haven't heard about them.

by Falls Church on Apr 14, 2012 5:27 pm • linkreport

While I don't doubt that some of the regulations on the pedicabs are due to the NPS wanting to discourage their use, the fact of the matter is that it's a service business in which customer safety is a concern, so yes, regulation generally is a good thing. I mean, we don't mind that restaurants have to keep food at a certain temperature or that taxis (ostensibly) have to be well maintained, so making pedicabs have various safety enhancements seems sensible enough, even if they seem arbitrary.

I do wonder if some of that is also meant to reduce NPS' potential liability in case of an accident...like if seatbelts aren't required and a customer gets injured, maybe they could sue the pedicab and the NPS for lack of safety regs. Seems ridiculous, but we love to be litigious, don't we?

The other restrictions, like pickup restrictions and the like seem overbearing though...

by MM on Apr 15, 2012 2:12 am • linkreport

Like most things, regulations are a complex topic and can't simply be evaluated using blanket ideological stances. That is, regulations are neither inherently good or bad. Rather carefully crafted, well thought out, and coordinated regulations are good and hastily scraped together regulations that are overly prescriptive for emerging technologies or practices (which would include pedicabs) are bad. Yes, there should be some form of regulation and DC has that covered with their own set of pedicab regulations. Adding another layer of uncoordinated regulation at the national level is entirely unnecessary and is an example of bad regulation.

Also, it would not be possible to sue DC or NPS for lack of pedicab seat belt laws just as it's not possible to sue New Hampshire for its lack of auto seat belt laws. Realistically, pedicab passengers aren't going to wear seat belts and holding the pedicab operator responsible is just an excuse to be able to fine and possibly arrest (and possibly taser) pedicab drivers. Same goes for exacting dimensions for reflective tape, an SMV emblem, and carrying the book of rules at all times (typical "show me your papers" govt overreach).

Itse also worth pointing out that NPS is requiring a $100 application fee for obtaining a pedicab license which is just another burden and cost on small businesses that don't make much money but have many positive externalities. Sure, we have $100M subsidies for corporate solar companies but we have to charge pedicabs $100 for little quantifiable benefit.

And I'll reiterate, DC already has pedicab regulations and there's no evidence indicating that pedicabs are over regulated (rather, all the evidence is that NPS is over zealous in enforcing existing rules).

by Falls Church on Apr 15, 2012 2:49 pm • linkreport

I meant no evidence that pedicabs are under regulated.

by Falls Church on Apr 15, 2012 2:52 pm • linkreport

...pedicabs are an innovative answer to the problems of poor air quality and oil dependency.

And an innovative answer to the need for transportation around the mall

by Tina on Apr 15, 2012 10:07 pm • linkreport

Those proposed pedicab regulations sure sound burdensome and unnecessarily complex to me, too. Every ounce of weight you add to those human-powered vehicles will discourage their use. A flashing, battery-powered clip on light would be a good thing for night operation, that's all I really see the need for.

by MrTinDC on Apr 16, 2012 9:48 am • linkreport

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