Rickshaw taxis will be illegal in Catalonia by 2023

Barcelona City Council and the Generalitat have agreed to amend cab law to prohibit this practice throughout Catalonia

Mar Bermúdez i Jiménez
2 min
Bicitaxis in the Colono Zone

BarcelonaBarcelona City Council and the Generalitat have agreed to ban rickshaw cabs throughout Catalonia through a modification of the taxi law. The new legislation will exclude bicycles and tricycles from the characteristics required for a vehicle to be a taxi (article 20.1) and is expected to come into force in early 2023. The announcement was made this Tuesday by the first deputy mayor, Jaume Collboni, and the secretary general of the department of the Vice-Presidency and Digital Policies and Territory, Ricard Font.

Rickshaw cabs "are a source of precariousness of all kinds, starting with workers, and are also a source of insecurity, require an effort on behalf of the police and also generate nuisance in the neighbourhoods," Collboni said. For these reasons, Barcelona City Council has been working for years to "pass a definitive ban on this activity", since, according to Collboni, the presence of rickshaw cabs "is not consistent with the image and the message of quality tourism" the city seeks to give. Collboni stated that, until the ban comes into force, mobility restrictions and penalties for rickshaw cabs already approved in Barcelona will stay in place.

New, tougher penalties

The new sanctions which will be imposed will be "some of the toughest", according to Font, of around €6,000, but "we will have to re-evaluate them and apply a little inflation", he added. The first sanction will also lead to the vehicle being impounded. In Barcelona 40 rickshaw cabs are currently impounded, according to Collboni, for working without an appropriate license. However, there is no specific license that covers rickshaw taxis activity.

The deputy mayor has assured that "now there are practically no rickshaw taxis in the city", thanks to the restrictions approved by Barcelona City Council; the latest was passed in July and banned the vehicles from circulating in the areas of Sagrada Familia, Eixample, Paral·lel, Park Güell and the Camp Nou. With today's announcement, Collboni pointed out that the measures now have "total legal guarantees and the capacity to prevent this activity from happening again in the near future".

According to Barcelona's municipal ordinance that allows the bicycle cabs to be registered on a voluntary basis and only as an identification method, with no implied permission to do business, there are about 433 registered bicycle cabs operating in the city.

Rickshaw drivers' reaction

Erwin Triebels runs Pura Vida Rickshaw Tours, which organises rickshaw tours of Barcelona. In statements to ARA he explains that he is "disappointed" with the news. "They have not sought dialogue with sector representatives nor have they tried to regulate the activity so as not to disturb neighbours," he assures. "Now that we have to save energy, I think that an ecological means of transport should not be banned," says Triebels, adding that "an alternative could have been found". He adds that rickshaws are an option to fight against "mass tourism", because it is "an alternative to tourist buses". He also considers that rickshaws are useful for tourists with disabilities, for example, who "cannot enjoy the city as much from a bus as they can with our tours. Families with small children, who have a harder time getting around, can also relax for a while and use our service". Trixi Tour Barcelona, another company that offers rickshaw cab rides around the city, also stated its opposition to the new law approved today.