Barcelona announces 'drastic' rickshaw cutback

Estimates put total around 2,000 but vehicles remain in regulatory vacuum

Barcelona city council has announced it is to take action against the mostly unlicensed rickshaws that have proliferated on the city’s streets in recent years, which some estimates put as high as 2,000.

“Barcelona isn’t Bombay,” said Jaume Collboni, the deputy mayor. “We have cycle lanes that are for bicycles, pavements for pedestrians and we aspire to having a respectful and quality tourism model.”

Rosa Alarcón, the city’s councillor for mobility, complained that the rickshaws “contribute nothing to citizens’ mobility because they are fundamentally focused on tourism”.

However, outside the tourist season, drivers often look for clients outside nightclubs, concerts and football matches.

In July police decommissioned 122 rickshaws, and the council now proposes a “zero-tolerance” policy on traffic infringements in an effort to bring the business under control. Only around 500 rickshaws are registered with the authorities.

As with the explosion in the number of electric scooters, as well as the ubiquitous bike and Segway tours, the problem is that rickshaws exist in a legal vacuum. Technically speaking they may, like bikes, use cycle lanes and wide pavements, but the city wants them to be covered by a separate bylaw.

The existing law states that they can use pavements or cycle lanes that are “sufficiently wide”, which Alarcón insists is too vague. In theory they are banned from the narrow streets of the old city from May to October but this restriction, like many others, is openly flouted.

“We are part of the tourist industry, not taxi drivers,” says César Gestor, a spokesman for the rickshaw drivers. He said they had been trying to get the sector regulated for years but the authorities were unwilling to listen.

He disputed the figure of 2,000 rickshaws, claiming it was closer to 1,000, only half of which were licensed. “We are willing to sit down, talk and find a way to regulate the business,” he said. “What’s clear is we can’t go on like this. We can’t have a European city where rickshaws are banned. We are not doing anything illegal.”


Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Spain announces plans for flying taxi service in Barcelona
First air taxis to fly in Catalan capital and Santiago de Compostela in 2022, says Enaire

Sam Jones in Madrid

05, Nov, 2020 @1:20 PM

Article image
Hermitage Museum proposal divides Barcelona authorities
City council rejects scheme to open branch of Russian institution after port authority gave the go-ahead

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

30, May, 2021 @10:47 AM

Article image
Barcelona school and residents create solar energy community
Council-supported project beginning on roof of school in Poblenou could grow across the city

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

24, Jul, 2022 @10:48 AM

Article image
Barcelona cracks down on outdoor drinking parties with €600 fines
City raises upper limit of penalties for causing disturbance after botellones grow in popularity since Covid

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

09, Aug, 2022 @10:54 AM

Article image
Anger in Madrid but calm in Barcelona at extended lockdown
Residents in Spain’s two biggest cities react to being excluded from relaxation of coronavirus measures

Sam Jones in Madrid and Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

15, May, 2020 @5:35 PM

Article image
Barcelona Airbnb host 'manages rentals worth £33,000 a day'
Apartment platform accused of becoming marketing site for big hotels and holiday rental agents

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

22, Oct, 2018 @2:52 PM

Article image
Barcelona denies ex-president bought liver for French footballer
Report claims Sandro Rosell admitted in phone calls purchasing organ illegally

Sam Jones

04, Jul, 2018 @5:23 PM

Article image
Violence erupts after pro-Catalan general strike in Barcelona
Protesters set fire to bins and chant ‘The streets will always be ours’ in fifth night of rioting

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona and Sam Jones in Madrid

18, Oct, 2019 @5:13 PM

Article image
Barcelona phone booth library vandalised a day after opening
Booth, which first opened on Saturday, is being repaired after vandals painted it with graffiti and stole screen

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

27, Apr, 2022 @10:32 AM

Article image
Town near Barcelona uses wolf urine to keep wild boar away
Lack of rain may be forcing animals to seek food from rubbish bins in Aiguafreda

Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

22, Aug, 2019 @4:39 PM