BY KRISTEN J. KUBISIAK AND RAMELLE BINTZ • DOOR COUNTY ADVOCATE • MAY 9, 2009
Door County visitors will have a new option for traveling the downtown areas of Sturgeon Bay and Fish Creek this summer.
Two new businesses in the area are offering pedicab services. Pedicabs are a bicycle-driven pedestrian taxi that offer an environmentally friendly alternative to short-distance travel.
“It’s a great way for people to get where they want to go while enjoying the fresh air,” said Angie Brusky, co-owner of Peninsula Pedicabs LLC in Fish Creek.Brusky and her boyfriend, Josiah Lent, recently returned to Door County, where they were both born and raised, to start their pedicab business. Brusky is the daughter of Bill and Jackie Brusky of Sturgeon Bay, and Lent is the son of Craig and Lauren Lent of Fish Creek.
For Brusky and Lent, the decision to start a pedicab business stemmed from a love of biking, which is a definite requirement to haul between 600 and 700 pounds of weight up hills and around town at a pace of 15 mph.
“We’ve both been biking most of our lives,” said Lent, who biked more than 4,000 miles last year and will be the primary driver for Peninsula Pedicabs. “It is great exercise for me and hopefully a fun experience for our passengers.”
But exercise isn’t the only reason entrepreneurs are turning to pedicabs: The dismal economy spurred Jim McCarthy of Sturgeon Bay to start his pedicab business, Fresh Air Cabs. McCarthy, owner of Uptop Roofing, saw one of his slowest winter’s during his 20-year career last year.
“I’m lucky because in roofing, people still need to protect their investment, so I still had work,” he said. “But I’m also getting up there in age (50), and I needed to think of another viable resource.” During the cold winter, he thought of pleasant times he had as a tourist in Key West, riding from restaurants, bars and hot spots in a pedicab.
He liked the freedom that riding a pedicab gave him to kick back and not worry about parking, drinking and driving or noise.
“It’s a cab service, but it’s more about the experience,” McCarthy said.
Although pedicabs are a new concept in Door County, they have actually been around in larger U.S. cities for many years, said Dan Werner, director of sales and marketing for Main Street Pedicabs, the largest manufacturer of pedicabs in the United States.
“Pedicabs started out in larger cities like New York, San Diego and Austin,” Werner said. “It’s only over the past several years that they have really taken off in smaller areas.”
But pedicabs can be more than just a novel way for visitors to tour the downtown areas of certain communities.
“We are finding more and more that they provide a nice way for people who are physically challenged or have trouble walking to enjoy the outdoors in a way that a traditional taxicab does not,” Werner said. “You can really enjoy the scenery — see the birds and the squirrels — and feel the fresh air and sunshine.”
More than that, Werner said, pedicabs operators can be an ambassador for the towns they serve.
“We want to promote the community and let people know about our history,” Lent said.
McCarthy envisions taking a lot of people to museums for the fireboat tours and back and forth from bars and hotels and over the bridges.
“Mainly, it will be short distances downtown,” he said. “I want people to enjoy their stay here in Sturgeon Bay and not worry about getting picked up for intoxicated driving. They can just eat, drink and be merry.”
Both businesses plan to be available at major county events and festivals, as well as maintain a regular presence in their respective communities.
McCarthy intends to operate his both day and night with a student partner, 23-year-old Cameron Voss, taking the day shift while McCarthy is at roofing jobs in the summer. McCarthy just ordered his new taxi and expects it to arrive in time for Memorial Day.
Peninsula Pedicab started offering services last week, generally from 5 to 10 p.m. The business’ grand opening is scheduled for the beginning of June.
“I am really happy to hear that there is more bicycle-based transportation in Door County,” Brusky said.
“It’s really a unique way to experience the community, and I think it adds to the ambiance of Door County.”Tags: bicycle, brusky, Cabs, dismal economy, entrepreneur, fish creek, fresh air, fun, Main Street, Main Street Pedicabs, new businesses, new option, Pedicab, pedicab business, Pedicab News, pedicabs, street pedicabs, sturgeon, sturgeon bay, taxicab, transportation