Read in Catalan

Agreement between the Catalan government and the Barcelona city council: pedicabs, sometimes known as cycle rickshaws, are to lose their legal status before the end of the year. The two administrations reached an agreement this Wednesday that will see the use of these vehicles banned by law in the city and throughout Catalonia before 2023. It's a decision that arose from the first meeting of the working group dedicated to this issue, and which will mean the end of the road for a sector that has mushroomed around the Catalan capital in recent years in response to mass tourism. Their numbers have fallen lately due to opposition from the city council and the pandemic, although this summer they have taken to the streets again.

But now their days are numbered. These three-wheeled vehicles were allowed to operate in Catalonia thanks to article 20 of the taxi law, which regulates the characteristics a vehicle must have to be considered a taxi, and until now the peddle-powered devices have been included. Now, however, pedicabs will be excluded from the regulation. Work will also be done to update the penalty regime of the law, which currently allows punishments ranging from the immobilization of the vehicle to a fine of 6,000 euros, in the most serious case. The intention is to strengthen and increase the potential sanctions. This aspect, however, will have to be negotiated, since it will be applied with the Catalan budget package for 2023, and the support it will receive remains to be seen.

The meeting of the working group on pedicabs was attended by the general secretary of the Catalan government's territorial department, Ricard Font, and the first deputy mayor of Barcelona city council, Jaume Collboni. The latter celebrated the decision that has been taken and believes that in this way the return of this transport means to the city will be avoided. Collboni also recalled that, after having intensified a campaign against this activity, its presence "has practically been reduced to zero" in Barcelona. According to municipal data from this June, there are 463 registered pedicabs in the city, while the city council has confiscated more than a thousand of them since 2019 and lodged more than 1,400 complaints this year alone. The deputy mayor also argued that it was necessary to ban the three-wheeled vehicles because "they are not consistent with the image and message that the city of Barcelona wants to give", focused on "quality tourism", and added that the activity is "a source of precariousness of all kinds". 


The opposition of the drivers themselves 

Those who do not see it that way are precisely the workers in the sector, who assert their need to continue plying their trade in the face of a lack of alternatives. On Tuesday July 27th, drivers of a group of the vehicles came together for a protest in Plaça Sant Jaume and Via Laietana to complain about the limitations that are placed on their ability to circulate around the city. Their complaints were also directly aimed at Jaume Collboni due to his stance against the pedicabs.