ELECTRIC tricycles could help show off Oxford’s dreaming spires to hundreds of tourists.
A unique plan to bring the so-called “pedicabs” to the city could be given the go-ahead tonight.
The CityCruiser tricycles, which have a maximum speed of 25km per hour, work for up to eight hours a day after charging from a mains socket overnight.
The scheme has been put forward by Kent-based firm Veloform UK.
It wants to initially licence its tricycles as private-hire vehicles, targeting tourists in the city.
Private-hire vehicles have to be booked in advance, whereas normal taxis or “hackney carriages” can be hailed in the street or wait at ranks.
But managing director Andrew Hutchinson said they could also later be used as taxis or for deliveries.
Mr Hutchinson said there was a strong argument for their use as taxis, and said they were better and more regulated than primitive rickshaws.
He said: “At the moment all we are looking at in Oxford is the tourist market.
“We know they can work in cities which get a lot of visitors and tourists, for people who don’t want to do a walking tour, but don’t want one of the open-top buses.”
The CityCruisers are already operating in more than 150 cities in 50 different countries, but Oxford could be the first British city to get them.
He said: “London has these 900 abysmal rickshaws, which can operate as a bicycle and can therefore do anything they like.
“The pedicabs weigh considerably more than a bicycle, and they are fully-licensed and have to be driven by someone over the age of 17.”
The proposal has met with a mixed response.
Taxi driver Richard Barlow, 59, from Kidlington, said: “I don’t mind if they’re doing it for the tourism, because it’s better than those big red buses, but I would oppose them being used as taxis because it would harm our business. There are already too many taxis out there.”
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price, left, said: “It’s complicated because if you’re going to have them as things which are hired, they will either have to be classed as a hackney carriage, which they can’t be at the moment because we have a limit of 104.
“It’s either that or private hire, which would mean they would have to conform to legislation which at the moment states they have to have four wheels.”
Veloform UK has asked the city council to consider whether the vehicles could be licensed in Oxford.
Members of the council’s general purpose licensing committee have been advised to ask officers to examine the proposals in more detail when they meet at the town hall at 6pm tonight.