• Wed. Sep 21st, 2022

Denver pedal taxi drivers upset over mall ban and new rules

ByElla E. Kidwell

Aug 25, 2022

The Denver Excise and Licensing Department recently announced that the city is doubling the area in which pedal taxis can operate, focusing on Empower Field at Mile High, RiNo Art District, Auraria Parkway and around Capitol Hill. . But at the same time, pedal taxis have been banned from the under-construction 16th Street mall.

And some pedal taxi drivers accuse the city of holding them back in other ways.

Sammy Kosechequetah, who has been a full-time pedal taxi driver for five years, says the city uses a double standard for rules governing pedal taxis, as opposed to bicycles and e-bikes. “They have carte blanche and are largely unsupervised while I am confined to a small area trying to make a living, [which is] insulting and demeaning,” Kosechequetah says.

According to Nancy Kuhn, head of public information for the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, bikes are allowed on the Mall Transitway on weekends – anywhere the Transitway is still open. Horse-drawn carriages are permitted on blocks where the Transitway is always open on weeknights and weekends.

“Pedal taxis may not operate on the 16th Street Mall at any time for pedestrian safety during the ongoing renovation project,” reads DOTI’s latest notice to pedal taxi drivers.

“At this time, we are not allowed to access the mall due to construction, even though the current construction has very few blocks,” notes Kosechequetah. “It has hugely affected our access to foot traffic as the mall is the biggest area for tourists and shoppers.”

On August 12, city traffic engineer Emily Gloekner released a memorandum indicating that pedal taxis are not permitted to operate on Speer Boulevard, Auraria Parkway, Colfax Avenue, Park Avenue, Broadway and Brighton Boulevard.

Kuhn explains, “With respect to pedal taxis, city ordinance states that ‘The city’s traffic engineer shall determine appropriate hours of operation and acceptable streets and areas on which pedal taxis should be operated. operate “.”

Again, some drivers believe a double standard is at work, since bicycles are not banned on these roads. Instead, Gloekner states in its memo: “We encourage cyclists to use our cycle routes/networks which are safer to navigate; these roads are not part of the cycle network.”

The memo also states that pedal cabs must remain on authorized roads at all times and are not permitted on sidewalks, even when loading and unloading passengers.

“The biggest challenge would be doing business while keeping myself and my passengers safe, especially during times of heavy traffic,” says Kosechequetah. “Many times it is necessary to make transactions, deposits or pick-ups on the streets, which sometimes results in upset motorists. If we queue or do business in the bike lanes, we are harassed by cyclists angry who have to cross traffic just to get around us.”

Click to enlarge

Pedal taxi drivers came out to protest the mall ban.

Conor McCormick-Cavanagh

On August 17, the city held a rally at the mall to show off the replacement pavers and open an exhibit that will remain in place throughout the construction project; some pedal taxi drivers showed up to state their case. Now they are pushing for a meeting with Denver officials to talk about the current terms as well as the rules that will be enforced after the mall project ends.

“No decision has been made on what will happen after construction,” Kuhn said. “We will actively engage with pedal taxi operators in the future to discuss this.”