New laws to crackdown on London's 'wild west' of unlicensed rickshaws

The government is set to bring in new laws to control the 'wild west' of unlicensed rickshaws in central London.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was 'high time' to crack down on the activities of so-called pedicabs.

The pedal powered rickshaws, often with flashing disco lights, are a familiar sight in the West End where riders tout for business from tourists, shoppers and theatre-goers.

But some have been accused of scamming passengers to pay rip-off fares, playing loud music and blocking pavements.

Cities of London & Westminster MP Nickie Aiken who campaigned for the crackdown said she was aware of tourists being charged more than £100 for a one-mile journey.

A loophole in the laws governing taxis and minicabs allows pedicabs to operate without licenses.

Westminster Council has resorted to using anti-nuisance laws to prosecute rickshaw drivers in Covent Garden, Soho, Chinatown and Mayfair.

Three pedicab operators were recently fined more than £1,200 for playing excessively loud music late at night after a joint operation involving the council and the police.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs the government would include measures to curb pedicabs in a new transport bill.

"We will be introducing in this next session a law to control what I think is the wild west of pedicabs or rickshaw, particularly in London where there isn't legislation which accurately enables any type of proper licensing or control," said Mr Shapps.

The legislation could force pedicab operators to obtain a license and obey rules on prices and safety.