It’s pedicabs versus taxi cabs versus everyone else in the battle for Manhattan’s asphalt these days — or at least so the Post argued yesterday. (It’s apparently “‘Pedi’-monium!”) But the real turf war, according to pedicab drivers, is among those pedicabbies themselves — because a glut of drivers, many of them short-termers from places like Turkey, Russia, and Poland, means intense competition. It’s leading to passenger-swiping, gimmicky “transpotainment,” and criticisms of those foreign drivers. (Who we always thought were just taking the fares Americans didn’t want to take.)
“I was riding back in the days when there was like seven pedicabs in New York, and there was no turf war then,” says Damian Loverro, a 36-year-old schoolteacher turned driver. “There was an unspoken rule that it was first come, first serve. Now, I’ve been sitting there for like half an hour and someone just rolls up and steals the next customers.”
The top spots for fare hustling are tourist meccas like Central Park (where as many as 300 pedicabs circle daily), the Empire State Building, and the Circle Line terminal at 42nd Street and Twelfth Avenue. Things at the Circle Line, Loverro reports, get particularly rough. “In lean times, people get nasty,” he says. “August is a very lean time. Right now it’s not like that, because people get rides. September to New Year’s Eve is the fat time — if you work ten hours on New Year’s Eve, you can easily make $1,000 or more.” For money like that, we’d dress up like a goof, too.
— Melena Ryzik