Manhattan Bicycle Rickshaw/Pedicab Scam


A pedi-cab in Times Square in NYC days before the new years 2011 party. Photo taken on: December 25th, 2010
Credit line:© Michael Ludwig |

Manhattan Pedicab Scam

A pedicab driver attempted to scam my daughter and me in Manhattan recently. My daughter and I Christmas shopped for several hours one day in December. As we walked towards our hotel, we decided to climb into a bicycle rickshaw, unaware that we were setting ourselves up for a pedicab scam.

Dangerous Pedicab Ride

The driver gave us a thick wool blanket and rolled down a thick plastic sheet for warmth. Our pedicab weaved in and out of swarming-yellow taxicabs. Some came within inches of our cart. I contemplated jumping out, but I stayed to enjoy the relaxing adventure with my daughter. After six blocks of horn-screaming bumper-to-bumper traffic, my heart was pounding. I had enough fun. Additionally, I was looking forward to a great dinner with my family, so I wasn’t ready to die in a pedicab.

Pedicab Driver Charged $40 for 6 Minutes

When we exited the rickshaw, the driver said that we owed him $40. As I questioned him about the price, a man pulled up next to us and asked about our discussion. I said that the driver charged us $40 for pedaling six blocks. When the man glared at the rickshaw driver, I knew that he was trying to scam us. Therefore, I tossed $20 to the rickshaw driver and walked away.

The NYC Pedicab Owners’ Association

I researched pedicab companies to learn the appropriate cost for pedicab rides. The Central Park Pedicab Tour site’s price list seems reasonable. Also, The NYC Pedicab Owners’ Association offers tips to avoid scams. My advice is to negotiate a price before climbing into a bicycle-rickshaw-death trap.

What has been your experience with pedicabs in Manhattan?

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9 thoughts on “Manhattan Bicycle Rickshaw/Pedicab Scam

  1. Informing post. I’ll remember this when i go to NYC. I live in San Diego and we have some tourism here, along with pedicabs. My strategy with pedicabs is first asking how much from point A (where you get on) to point b (where you would want to go). When they tell me the price, I try to knock it down a couple bucks, because it’s sometimes hard for them to get people on, they’ll usually negotiate. When they drop us off, I’ll give them what we agreed upon plus a little tip. It turns out to be what they initially asked for.

  2. A NYC pedicab tried to scam my husband and I this weekend. Charging us over 60 dollars for what would have been a 10 dollar cab ride. I told him absolutely not and the guy actually walked away to find an ATM so we would pay him. It was ridiculous. My advice just say no. Take a cab instead.

  3. All I can say is Buyer Beware! After my husband, my son and I spent about 5 minutes attempting to hail a “real” taxi in vain, they noticed a couple of these “pedicabs” beckoning to us. I was initially wary and said I would rather wait a few minutes. My gut feeling was that they didn’t appear safe, the drivers were not terribly inspiring and so we continued to try to flag down a cab (on sixth avenue at 55th St.) No cabs to be had and another pedicab appeared. This time, they convinced me to try it. The seats are small and even though we were clearly stuffed in like sardines, the driver insisted all was well. We were going to 44th street. Naievely, we didn’t think to ask about price. (We thought these things were cost saving devices as a result of the gas prices) Therefore when we arrived at our desitation (about 10 harrowing minutes later) and the “driver” blithely announced the fee was $125.00, we went crazy. It did not occur to us to attempt to barter, or to refuse to pay. The guy showed us (in tiny print) where it says it is 2.00 per person per mile and some other additonal fees. (It still did not seem to total 125.00) so he said to be “nice” he would knock it down to $117.00. We paid it, but learned a very big lesson. Take a regular taxi–or walk. (Note: a few hours later, I noticed that the NYC Consumer Affairs Division is attempting to regulate or somehow City Councilman Dan Garodnick wants to add a kind of Tourist Protection Law)
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  4. Pedicab is a huge scam. We forgot to ask the price before we entered. We went from 7av/47th to 6av/53th and had to pay $54. We felt ripped-off, as a taxi would be max $5! NEVER TAKE A BIKE CAB!!!

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