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Hansom Cabbies Turn Ugly

Horsemen try to give pedicabs the boot.

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A few horse-drawn-carriage owners are underwriting a controversial campaign to ban their human-powered rivals—pedicabs—from midtown. Lobbyist Thomas McMahon, former chief counsel to the City Council, is getting $2,000 a month to represent three carriage owners. He argues that the pedicab industry is “like the Wild Wild West” since it’s not regulated, unlike hansom cabs and taxis (the owners of which have also hired lobbyists to hobble pedicabs). McMahon’s former City Council colleague Christine Quinn has proposed a bill banning pedicabs from 30th to 65th Streets. “This whole thing is about respect,” says Arty Nichols, who owns a pedicab fleet as well as a carriage, and favors pedicab regulation. He says the owners who hired McMahon were set off by a curb-space dispute outside Tavern on the Green over the summer. “Carriages are a New York institution. The pedicabs, they’re the fresh new kids on the block.”

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