NEW YORK (AP) – A bill to regulate the bicycle taxi industry hit a surprise bump in the road on Wednesday when Mayor Michael Bloomberg had second thoughts just before he was to sign it into law.

Bloomberg was on board as the measure moved through the City Council and was approved last month. But he shifted into neutral during a bill-signing ceremony at City Hall, where a group of pedicab drivers and other opponents told him why they disagreed with the bill.

Last year throughout the hearing process, which was contentious at times, many in the fast-growing pedicab industry said they welcome some regulation, such as licensing and safety standards, to weed out freewheeling drivers and operators. But when the council passed the bill, it also capped the number of pedicabs allowed on city streets at 325, which many drivers said was unfair and would cause them to lose their jobs.

The city estimates there are between 300 and 400 pedicabs on city streets. The pedicabs, which look like giant tricycles with passenger carriages in the back, have increasingly become popular among tourists who enjoy a different view of the city and some residents who prefer to zip through vehicular traffic.

The public can sign up to speak about laws on the table at signing ceremonies, but these events are mostly ceremonial – by the time a bill gets to the mayor’s desk, he knows whether he will sign or veto it. But with the pedicab proposal in front of him, he was no longer certain after hearing the arguments against it.

“I want to think about it,” he said.

The mayor has 30 days from the time a bill is passed to take action. Bloomberg has promised to sign or veto the measure by the March 30 deadline, but if he doesn’t it becomes law.

His chief spokesman, Stu Loeser, said it was the first time Bloomberg had made such a postponement.

One of Bloomberg’s predecessors had a similar experience with a bicycle bill. In 1984, Mayor Ed Koch was poised to sign a law regulating the bike messenger business, but after hearing opponents at the bill-signing ceremony he put off a decision.

He asked his law department to review one area that concerned him and ended up signing the measure the next month.


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