Wearing a black leather jacket reminiscent of Johnny Ramone, well-manicured facial hair and a big grin, Tony Benedict, owner of Pure Power Pedicab, is East Lansing’s one and only bicycle taxi.
Benedict, an East Lansing resident and former paramedic, has been serving the East Lansing community since November 2008 with his human-powered mode of transportation.
“I go completely on tips, and I do that because I don’t want to set a set rate,” Benedict said. “Some people just want a ride and they really don’t have a lot of money. I figure everyone should have a ride if they just want to go home and they don’t live too far away.”
On average, Benedict said he is tipped $5-$6 for rides that average about a quarter mile, although a particularly generous customer once gave him $100.
Benedict operates his taxi Thursday through Saturday, starting around midnight. On any given night, he’ll give 20-40 rides with two or three people riding in his cab at a time.
Aimee Ryder, an interdisciplinary studies in social science and human resources and society senior, rode in the pedicab for the first time this winter.
“It was something I always wanted to do before I graduated,” she said, “We had left from the bar, Rick’s (American Café). We were going to our house.”
Ryder said the blanket Benedict includes in the cab to keep passengers warm and his willingness to take photos of her and her friends made the ride that much better.
Benedict’s relationship with bicycles began when his truck was destroyed and he began using a bicycle as a primary mode of transportation. This, he said, was when he realized the power of bicycles.
For Benedict, his pedicab is more than a job — it also is a way to demonstrate his desire to reduce dependence on automobiles and congestion.
“I am doing it kind of for the money, but not really,” Benedict said. “It’s just very enjoyable, meeting new people and if they enjoy the ride and if these things can grow, that’s what I’m looking for — like something where I can contribute to East Lansing a little bit.”
Benedict’s pedicab weighs in at 185 pounds. The giant tricycle can hold three passengers, has 21 gears, disc breaks, turning signals and brake lights. Brandished on the back of the pedicab’s chassis is a painting of a tiger, a symbol that Benedict chose, he said, because “it gives it strength.”
Benedict sees the future of pedicabs and that of the East Lansing and MSU communities as intertwined. Aside from being environmentally friendly, to Benedict, bicycle taxis could contribute to the area’s “flavor.”
“I do know MSU and East Lansing are definitely looking for new ways to stimulate the city as well,” Benedict said. “This would just be something to help stimulate a little of it. Give it something new, something different.”Tags: benedict, bicycle, bicycles, Cabs, community, congestion, Environmentally, johnny ramone, mode of transportation, passenger, Pedicab, Pedicab News, pedicabs, taxis, Transport, tricycle