Volume 77 / Number 33 Jan. 16 - 22, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

A polar bear waited along with pedicab protesters outside the location of Christine Quinn’s East Village fundraiser last week.

Quinn’s pedicab bill is a real bear, protesters say

By Jefferson Siegel

About 20 pedicab drivers and owners stood outside an E. 11th St. building last Wednesday night waiting for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to arrive for a fundraiser.

The drivers believe a close friend and neighbor of Quinn’s, taxi industry lobbyist Emily Giske, was responsible for urging Quinn to limit the growth of the pedicab industry. A City Council bill passed last year limited the number of pedicab licenses, banned the use of small electric-assist motors and banned the pedal-powered cabs from bike lanes.

“I think the bill that is in the City Council is arbitrary and mean,” said Ibrahim Donmez, a pedicab driver for two years.

Chanting “Quinn, Quinn, she can’t win; She’s not green, she’s just mean” and “No caps, no bans; We’ve got to stop these evil plans,” the pedicab protesters waited almost an hour and a half for Quinn’s arrival. One of them was dressed as a polar bear, playing on the theme that pedicabs are environmentally friendly and that limiting their numbers, like global warming, would endanger polar bears along with the environment.

Quinn — an expected candidate for mayor — chose to walk down the block with only her bodyguard. Although they had waited so long, to everyone’s surprise, no one noticed her arrival until she walked past them uttering a cheery “Hello!” Before they could even start chanting, she was inside the building’s lobby and going into the elevator.

The protest was organized by the Pedicab Workers Association. Last year pedicab drivers and owners held two processions through Midtown on their way to protests at City Hall. George Bliss, a founder of the New York City pedicab movement, said the group plans more protests at future Quinn fundraisers.

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