To Pedal or Not to Pedal?

Controversy arises between local business owner and city attorney

A San Diego small business owner is claiming her bicycle shop may shut down because of a city ordinance.

Laura Rovick, who owns Gaslamp Quarter bicycle rental shop Social Cycle, is contesting a legal opinion issued by the city attorney last August that classifies her four-wheeled vehicles as a Pedi cab.

Rovick rents out a large 16-person bicycle, powered by the passengers and steered by herself or an employee who operates the signals and brakes. But unlike a Pedi cab, the driver doesn't physically pedal, and passengers are never picked up for hire and they’re never dropped off at a location.

“We don’t stop and pic up customers on the route, we don’t stop and drop off customers on the route,” said Rovick’s lawyer Constantine Buzunis.

San Diego City attorney Jan Goldsmith considers the vehicle a Pedi cab because it has more than three wheels and is used for transporting passengers for hire – which is part of city code.

Rovick and her lawyer said the vehicles are not for hire like a Pedi cab or taxi, because renters must book the vehicle a minimum of two days in advance for a minimum two-hour rental.

A police officer cited Rovick in February for violating the Pedi cab ordinance. She said there were six police officers who stopped the bicycle unit and kicked everyone off. The unit was towed and impounded, and Rovick was forced to pay $500 to retrieve it from the lot.

She believes that if the city doesn’t reclassify her vehicles as a rental bicycle, she will go out of business. Since the citation she had to cancel several bookings and is in danger of losing her business and going bankrupt.

Her lawyer says Rovick can’t rent out the bikes while she waits to contest the ticket from February, because she’s scared her vehicle will get impounded.

Rovick said she might try and go to another city if things don’t work out, but that’s a last resort.
“This is my home,” she said. “I want to be here.”

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