Council to consider new pedicab laws

Photos from Fayetteville Pedicab Company’s Facebook page.

Fayetteville Aldermen are expected to vote on whether to allow pedicabs to operate on sections of the city’s trail system and on certain roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or greater at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

The council first approved an ordinance allowing pedicabs in Fayetteville in August, but restricted their operation to a section of downtown/Dickson and to roads with a speed limit less than 35 mph.

Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty sponsored the amended ordinances at the request of pedicab company owners who would like to extend their services to downtown residents and to game-day crowds on Razorback Road.

It’s a very slow-moving, very visible object that is probably the safest thing you’ll see on the trails

— Jason Sexton, Fayetteville Pedicab Co.

Petty said he believes that while the city’s trails are used for recreational purposes, the primary reason for their existence is to extend Fayetteville’s alternative transportation options.

Jason Sexton, who owns Fayetteville Pedicab Co., agreed and said he believes a lot of residents would benefit from pedicabs on the trails.

“We see a lot of pedestrian traffic on the trail with people shopping—people that don’t have cars that are using the trail to get out to Walmart,” he said. “We thought we might be able to help those individuals as well.”

At first, Ward 4 Alderwoman Rhonda Adams wasn’t so sure about extending the operating zones that the council first established last fall.

“I liked those zones then, and I like them now,” she told the council earlier this month.

Since then, she and Alderman Petty have come up with a new proposal that would restrict pedicab trail use to between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., when pedestrian traffic is lighter on the trails.

In the two meetings that have taken place since Petty first proposed the changes in March, the council has heard arguments both for and against pedicab trail usage.

With the trails being used by walkers, cyclists, skateboarders, etc., “There is simply not enough room on the trails for pedicabs to be added to the mix,” said resident Melissa Jackson at the April 5 council meeting.

Sexton disagreed and said that even in the areas where the 12-foot-wide trails are narrower than normal, the 4-foot-wide pedicabs are still very safe.

He said mountain bikes and road bikes can hit speeds of 20 to 30 mph, but that pedicabs max out at about 5 mph.

“It’s a very slow-moving, very visible object that is probably the safest thing you’ll see on the trails,” said Sexton.

A final decision will likely come Tuesday night when council members will also discuss whether pedicab companies should be allowed to place small advertisements on the backs of the rickshaw-like vehicles.