Freewheeling days at an end for city 'trishaws'

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The Independent Online
CAMBRIDGE'S colourful, three-wheeled "trishaws", a popular and environmentally friendly form of transport, face being driven out of business after a judge ruled yesterday that they must be bound by the same regulations as taxis.

Simon Lane, who runs the service, has been told he must pass the Cambridge equivalent of the taxi driver's "knowledge" test if he wishes to continue carrying passengers.

Mr Lane said yesterday that he planned to appeal: "The battle is lost but the war is still being fought ... They may have the legal power to do this but it doesn't change the fact that it is clearly unreasonable." He added that the business worked all around the world, except in Britain where it is "over-regulated".

Mr Lane, 31, who failed the road knowledge test last month, said it was ridiculous to expecthis drivers to have detailed knowledge of residential streets on the outskirts of the city. He also objects to regulations which mean that his drivers must be subject to criminal record checks and must go for medical tests which cost pounds 85 each.

"Students aren't going to do all that for a summer job," he said. "We already have to learn all the university's history."

Mr Justice Richards ruled that the laws for Hackney carriages "apply to the applicant's trishaws". But Mr Lane's solicitor, Susan Ring, said: "It is an absurdity to compare a trishaw with a motorised taxi."

Mr Lane, now unemployed, has six trishaws and has invested pounds 30,000 in his business. He says he may have to sell the vehicles if he loses the appeal.