Pedicab ordinances approved

The Fayetteville City Council voted on Tuesday to allow pedicabs on sections of city trails between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and on certain roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or greater.

The changes were part of a proposal by Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty who received requests from pedicab company owners who sought to extend their services to downtown residents and to game-day crowds on Razorback Road.

Until now, pedicabs have been restricted to a roughly four-square-mile area of downtown/Dickson and to roads with a speed limit less than 35 mph.

Safety issues were a concern for residents who spoke out against the ordinance changes, but Fayetteville Pedicab Co. owner Jason Sexton reiterated his opinion that the slow-moving pedicabs are anything but dangerous.

“We’re talking about an extremely safe bicycle being able to operate on a bike trail,” said Sexton. “I can find no incident of a pedicab being involved in any kind of an accident on any bike trail anywhere.”

Ward 2 Alderman Mark Kinion agreed and said he had also been researching the safety of pedicabs.

“There is not anything I could find showing that there are pedestrians being run down by pedicabs,” said Kinion. “There’s actually a great deal of information on the overall safety and responsibility in association with pedicabs, even in high density areas.”

The ordinance was approved unanimously.

Ads on pedicabs

Mayor Lioneld Jordan cast the tie-breaking vote to approve an exemption to the city’s sign ordinance which will allow small advertisements on the backs of pedicabs operating in the downtown/Dickson area.

Until now, city law stated that the only vehicles allowed to display offsite advertisements (ads for other businesses) are motorized taxicabs and buses.

Four aldermen were not at all in favor of adding another exemption to the law. Alderwomen Adella Gray, Brenda Thiel, Rhonda Adams and Sarah Lewis all said they believed that exemptions jeopardize the sign ordinance which contributes to the overall beauty of Fayetteville by not allowing unattractive signs and billboards inside the city limits.

“It makes me very concerned with the direction that this is going,” said Ward 4 Alderwoman Sarah Lewis, who recently sponsored an ordinance (which did not pass) to revoke advertising on motorized taxicabs. “It’s frustrating for me to watch this community chisel away at something that’s really cool about Fayetteville.”

Aldermen Mark Kinion, Matthew Petty, Bobby Ferrell, and Justin Tennant were all in favor of allowing the exemption.

“I respect our sign ordinance tremendously,” said Ward 3 Alderman Justin Tennant. “To me, I don’t see a huge harm—in the entertainment district—by having a small sign on what is really a pretty small structure.”

With four votes in favor and for against, Mayor Jordan broke the tie by voting to allow pedicabs to display ads.

“I don’t think five pedicabs is going to make a whole lot of difference,” said Jordan.

A recap

Pedicabs Can

  • Pedicabs may operate on Scull Creek Trail, Frisco Trail, Mud Creek Trail and other transportation trails between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Drivers may place 2-foot-by-3-foot advertisements on the backs of the pedicabs operating in the downtown/Dickson area

Pedicabs Cannot

  • Pedicabs may not operate on any section of trail deemed “too narrow” by the Parks & Recreation director or on any park trails such as Lake Fayetteville, Wilson Park, Gulley Park, etc.
  • No advertisements will be allow on pedicabs operating on city trails

A word from Alderman Petty

We asked Mr. Petty what his thoughts were now that his ordinances have passed. Here are his comments:

While it was my goal to pass the most liberal pedicab ordinances possible, I am proud of the consensus we were able to establish among the Council for expanding the areas pedicabs are allowed to serve in Fayetteville. This is a step in the right direction for making alternative transportation more accepted in Fayetteville. After time has passed and the people of Fayetteville have seen how safe and beneficial pedicabs are, I will ask the Council again to give pedicabs greater opportunity to serve our citizens.

I especially want to thank Alderwoman Rhonda Adams. The restrictions* she asked for in the beginning of this discussion were, in my opinion, too much, but we were able to come to a compromise which led to a unanimous decision by the Council. I deeply appreciate Rhonda’s courteous consideration and professionalism.

*Originally, some council members (including Alderwoman Adams) were not in favor of allowing pedicabs on the trails. Adams and Petty worked together to draft an amendment that restricted pedicab trail use to between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., when trail traffic is not as high. That amendment was a turning point for the overall approval of the ordinance.