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D.C. Pedicabbers Say Park Police Still Targeting Them

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 11:20 AM

(Courtesy John Jacks)

(Washington, D.C. - Jonathan Wilson, WAMU) D.C. pedicab operators have been complaining of hostile treatment from police around the National Mall for much of the year. Although business slows down as the weather gets colder, some pedicab drivers say unpleasant interactions with police are again heating up.

Pedicab operators in the District started complaining of a police crackdown on their industry in the spring. Brian Graber, who's been operating a pedicab for three years now, says the U.S. Park Police force-- which has jurisdiction over the National Mall -- was enforcing rules before, but something has changed.

"This year, it started getting ferocious, if you will," Graber says. "I don't know what happened."

Oskar Mosco says he thought things would calm down once the National Park Service contract with Tourmobile ended in October, since many confrontations with police have centered on pedicabs picking up customers in designated Tourmobile pickup locations. But in the past couple of weeks, he says he's seen an increase in hostile attitudes from some officers.

"The same officers are coming up," he says. "We talk about getting badge numbers, to have some accountability."

The Park Police did not respond to requests for comment. The National Park Service has said it is drafting revised regulations for pedicab operation around the mall.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) is drafting a letter to the National Park Service this week, urging Park Service officials to involve pedicab operators as they formulate the plan.

Norton says tension between police and pedicab operators should be resolved with a simple sit-down meeting, but she also says revamping the transportation plan for the National Mall goes beyond resolving conflicts between pedicab operators, the Park Police and the Park Service.

"Are we going to have multi-modal, green transportation on the mall?" asks Norton. "Or are we going to have monopoly transportation? That's the kind of issue the public needs to weigh in on. I'm hoping the Park Service understands that."

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