SUE STOCK, Staff Writer The News & Observer | May 12, 2007
On the surface, a pedicab is about as simple as you can get. It’s a fiberglass carriage on wheels that is hauled around by a driver who rides a 21-speed bicycle in the front. But the arrival of the vehicles on the streets of downtown Raleigh this month could mean something more than a fun way to tour the city.
Downtown boosters are hoping that the debut of the Raleigh Rickshaw Co. is another subtle sign that downtown is beginning to pulse with the nightlife that has been so elusive. These kinds of services are crucial, helping to connect downtown areas that now operate autonomously, says Nancy Hormann, president of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
“I’ve just spent this last weekend in Memphis,” Hormann said. “What was very cool was you could jump in a horse-drawn carriage, you could jump in a rickshaw, and you could go from entertainment district to entertainment district.”
Some say Raleigh has a long way to go before it becomes that kind of thriving metropolis.
“If the weather is nice, we have pretty good foot traffic, especially if there’s some kind of special event going on,” said Carter Powell, co-owner of the Fayetteville Street Tavern (formerly The Capital Room). “But we need a whole lot more events.”
Some signs indicate that downtown traffic is picking up.
Along with Raleigh Rickshaw, the city operates trolleys around downtown.
There are also horse-drawn carriages that offer rides on the weekend, operated by Jamie Massey, who started the service in November. The service has grown from one carriage to three, and Massey is preparing to add Thursday to the schedule.
“We can’t get our hands on horses and carriages fast enough,” he said. “It’s growing faster than we can keep up with.”
Despite the attraction’s popularity, Massey said many riders associate things such as carriages and rickshaws with bigger cities.
“You’ll ask people, ‘Did you ever take a carriage ride before,’ and they’ll say, ‘Yeah, I did it in New York,’ or ‘I did it in Boston.’ But you don’t hear a lot of North Carolina.”
Charlotte and Carrboro also have rickshaw services. Raleigh Rickshaw co-owner Amedeo Rosa said that the availability of rickshaw services in other cities led him to start his company.
“We figured that if places like Charleston had them, we could have them here,” he said.
Raleigh officials are trying to build momentum, planning a more consistent trolley service that will run around downtown every 10 minutes or so.
“That’s the biggest missing link,” Hormann said. “The goal is to have it up and running by ’08, when the new convention center opens.”
But because the convention center’s opening is a year away, Rosa said he knows it’s a risk to start Raleigh Rickshaw now. He and business partner Sean O’Neal have invested $60,000 in the operation.
“Once you have enough people downtown, you can support these businesses,” Rosa said. “I think the downtown population needs to double again before you get the critical mass for true urban living. But it’s coming together.”
Working only for tips right now, Rosa and O’Neal are putting all of their money into buying more rickshaws. Raleigh Rickshaw operates five pedicabs, and there are five more on order, along with plans for 10 more by the end of the summer. “I hope to break even by September,” Rosa said.
In the meantime, the company is making what money it can by charging drivers fees to lease the rickshaws each night, ranging from $10 for weekdays to $75 for special events. The drivers keep any tips they earn.
Raleigh Rickshaw is also selling advertising on panels displayed on the buggies, though Rosa declined to say how much the ads cost.
“I see them as rolling billboards,” Rosa said. “I want to have a downtown guide with menus from restaurants and information about clubs. We could even do special packages, like date nights.”
Though they are just getting started, the rickshaws are a good sign for downtown Raleigh, said Doyle Hyett, whose HyettPalma firm specializes in helping cities boost their downtowns.
“I think that’s encouraging to see that entrepreneurs are venturing out there, trying some new and different things,” Hyett said. “There’s obviously a lot more parts to the story than that. But you’ve got to start somewhere. Those are small things, but small things add up over time. Everything can’t be a convention center.”
Raleigh’s toughest challenges moving ahead are likely to be attracting street-level retail shops and homes for middle-class people, Hyett said.
“Most of the first line of retail that you attract to a downtown in the early days is small, independent businesses,” he said. “But in the business of downtown revitalization, you’ve got to sometimes be satisfied with small victories.”
Staff writer Sue Stock can be reached at 829-4649 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Content provided courtesy newsobserver.com.
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Apr 19th 2007 | DENVER, LONDON AND NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition
Regulation threatens a booming business with, er, a cyclical downturn
A PEDICAB borrowed from a friend for a conference on pedestrianisation in 1990 got Steve Meyer pedalling what is now a fast-moving business. Hoping to liven up the often-deserted streets of downtown Denver, his hometown, he bought two of the bicycle taxis. But they did not work very well, so he started building what has since become the industry standard, with 21 gears, hydraulic brakes and so on. His firm, Main Street Pedicabs, now caters to rising demand both in America and abroad.
Alas, regulation in two of the biggest markets for pedicabs threatens to puncture Mr Meyer’s upbeat mood. Last month New York’s city council voted to impose onerous rules on the hitherto unregulated pedicab industry and to limit the number of pedicabs to 325. A protest prompted Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor, to veto the new rules, apparently out of entrepreneurial fellow feeling for the pedicab drivers, but the city council is likely to override his veto, perhaps as soon as next week.
Pedicabs first started operating in New York in the mid-1990s, but their numbers soared from around 100 to over 500 after they featured in an episode of Donald Trump’s business reality-television contest, “The Apprentice”, in 2004. For the sort of fit youngster who wants a flexible job—many drivers in New York are actors or students—it pays well: $300 on a good day, though typically half that. The cost of entry is low, perhaps $4,500, compared with $400,000 for a yellow-taxi medallion.
Pedicabs are under attack in London, too, where an estimated 400 operate. Transport for London, a regulatory body, is reviving its controversial claim that pedicabs should be regulated as “hackney carriages”, like the city’s black cabs. Chris Smallwood, chairman of the London Pedicab Operators Association and boss of Bugbugs, a 60-strong pedicab firm, says treating pedicabs like black cabs would impose unbearable costs on the industry. He has helped to draft an amendment to a bill now before the House of Lords that would introduce lighter pedicab regulations.
There is striking agreement between the pedicab trade groups in both London and New York that some sort of regulation is needed, not least to deter rogue operators. But current proposals seem to serve the interests of motor-taxi drivers, who want their rivals off the road.
The irritation is that pedicabs do not compete much with motor-taxis, say Messrs Meyer and Smallwood. Pedicab journeys tend to be the short trips that drivers of gas-guzzling taxis hate most. Pedicabs’ main competition is walking, says Mr Meyer, who points out that if New York’s 12,000 yellow cabs were replaced with pedicabs, “there would be a lot less congestion”. Here’s hoping that politicians on both sides of the Atlantic cast their votes for pedal power.
Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
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The Cayman Islands now have their own new rickshaw cab business, called Wheels PediCab Service.
“Environmentally friendly, well-equipped state-of-the-art rickshaw bicycles are a new way of getting around Seven Mile Beach and George Town,” said owner and operator Brian Barnes.
“I have no set route, and go wherever the passenger wants to go. They are well-equipped with signals, break lights, headlights, even seatbelts.”
Mr Barnes thought of the idea two years ago, and made his first application in September 2005 to import the rickshaw bicycles.
“The first two are here, and there are more on the way,” he said.
They can also be used for special events, such as weddings, private parties, parades, etc and they are also available for advertising and branding,” he added.
Mr Barnes also said businesses can advertise on the cabs, by ‘branding’ them with companies’ or products’ logos.
“It’s something new to Cayman and people use them right now in big cities such as Denver, New York, Florida, Las Vegas and Victoria in British Columbia, which is where I first fell in love with them and rode them to earn spare money, when I was going to school there,” said Mr Barnes.
People will be able to locate the cabs in and around the Seven Mile Beach and George Town locations.
For contact information people can phone 947-2222 or visit the company’s website at www.CaymanPediCab.com or email email@example.com.
Content provided courtesy caymannetnews.com.
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I’ve seen the future of short-haul public transport in Oxford, and it’s got three wheels. Oxford’s cycling community is abuzz with talk of the new bicycle-rickshaws, or pedicabs’. You may have seen them gliding around the city centre, ferrying overdressed students to and from college balls, but I hadn’t seen one until yesterday.
They’re a tricycle with a solid 85kg chassis, highly-geared and with fancy brakes. The ample seats happily accommodate two corpulent passengers, and back at their Jericho garages, the carriages can be swapped for pick-up modules for doing deliveries.
You need to be fit to ride a laden pedicab, and bizarrely, it’s probably easier if you aren’t a cyclist. I’ve just ridden one and it was weird. Whereas on a bike, you lean into a corner, on a pedicab, you stay bolt upright – in fact, leaning into a corner makes no difference whatsoever. “They’re great fun to ride and it’s nice being able to chat to passengers over your shoulder,” says Ted Maxwell, the founder of Oxon Carts. Ted’s thigh muscles doubled in size over the busy Christmas period and he’s never felt more tired than at the end of New Year’s Eve, but he and his riders love it.
Ted got the idea while holidaying in Scandinavia last summer. “Bicycle-rickshaws are an integral part of the transport system in several Nordic cities. I thought: Why aren’t they in Oxford already?’ Oxford is flat enough and it has the cycling culture,” says Ted. The entrepreneurial history undergraduate began to put out feelers last autumn. “Of course it’ll work,” was the unanimous and obvious verdict. Although 11 years ago Erica Steinhauer’s bicycle-rickshaw business failed, Ted is convinced that times have changed. So convinced, in fact, that he before he knew it, he’d set up Oxon Carts and imported five £2,000 pedicabs from the States.
A typical pedicab journey is the five-minute hop with your suitcase from the train station to High Street or with a heavy purchase from, say, Boswell’s to Jericho – even up Headington Hill “if you ask nicely!”
Pedicabs offer the journeys that you can’t make by bus or cab through our congested medieval streets. They’re doing cabbies a favour, too, as these short but traffic-snarled journeys earn cabbies the least.
Pedicabs in Oxford tick all the boxes: no need to worry about CO2 emissions or diesel fumes. Having access to cycle lanes and short cuts means they’re much quicker than a taxi. They reduce congestion and they’re a peaceful ride for passengers and pedestrians alike. In all, pedicabs are a win-win proposition for the city.
Local businesses are already using them for deliveries large and small, and you can book a private-hire service on 07747 024600 or www.oxoncarts.com Unfortunately, due to hackney carriage licensing complications, they can’t yet act as hailable on-street cabs. However, Oxon Carts see their future as plying the streets and customers want the freedom to hail a passing pedicab, so getting a taxi licence is the next step. Gird your loins for the three-wheeled revolution.
Content provided courtesy oxfordmail.net.
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Published March 15, 2006 by RockyMountain News
By Joanne Kelley, Rocky Mountain News
BROOMFIELD – Main Street Pedicabs has grown in fits and starts since Steve Meyer founded the company 14 years ago.
Based in this northern suburb of Denver, the company has turned out about 1,000 of its pedal-powered taxis throughout the years. But the rickshawlike contraptions have become a familiar sight in more and more downtown areas around the globe – most recently in Manhattan’s bustling, traffic-clogged Times Square.
Meyer, 52, hadn’t intended to start a business when he first bought a pedicab from an acquaintance in Aspen. But when he had trouble getting replacement parts for his hobby vehicle, he soon found himself trying to build a better one from scratch.
“I always kind of had a vision they could be used in America, but I didn’t know I was going to be the guy to do it,” said Meyer, who spent the early part of his career doing market research and planning for developers.
Initially, New Yorkers seemed reluctant to be seen in pedicabs. Like self-conscious teenagers, some requested they be dropped a block away from their destinations.
A spate of publicity has helped to spur acceptance.
A bright-yellow model is featured prominently on the cover of the Fodor’s New York City 2006, a guide to the city.
Contestants pedaled them a few months ago on NBC’s weight-loss show, The Biggest Loser. An appearance on The Apprentice two years ago helped to fuel interest.
But Main Street Pedicabs has grown in a number of directions from its manufacturing roots. Selling advertising space on the back of the taxis has become a significant part of the business. And Meyer is a co-owner of several pedicab-operating companies around the country, including Mile High Pedicabs in Denver.
“I make more money operating a pedicab than making one,” he said.
“The business works for us because we’re involved in so many facets of it,” Meyer said Tuesday in his newly expanded office, which still smelled strongly of a fresh coat of green paint.
Meyer gets help from his wife, Ruth Vanderkooi, when she’s not tending to her family medical practice. Otherwise, he has just a few full-time employees who assemble the pedicabs one at a time in space above the company’s offices.
As Meyer sits at his computer, he sees a call coming in from Tel Aviv, Israel, where he has been talking to someone who wants to buy a couple of the pedicabs for his own personal use.
Individuals increasingly have been buying the pedicabs to use in town or to get around islands where parking is scarce.
The pedicabs start at $2,900 but can cost as much $5,000 with all the options. They are built like mountain bikes, with 21 speeds, and have a cushioned carriage in the rear for toting passengers.
Meyer, who grew up in Boulder, said he is often questioned about whether he pursued pedicabs because of environmental concerns. But he insists his main motivation is “improving the quality of life” in cities. “I’d rather promote something than list all the things I’m against,” he said.
In Denver, pedicabs tend to operate on nights and weekends, during ballgames and other events that require people to walk several blocks from parking areas or light-rail stops.
“They add a real vitality to downtown,” said Tami Door, president of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “People like it because it’s fun. Downtowns should be fun.”
Ed Oliver, who is Meyer’s partner in the Denver pedicab operation, said he often drives a pedicab around the Pepsi Center parking lot, offering free rides during events. In most cases, passengers wind up tipping him at least $5 a ride.
“People hate walking across parking lots,” Meyer said.
With a new St. Louis Cardinals ballpark set to open in April, a budding pedicab operator awaits her order from Main Street Pedicabs.
“We want to get a business started just to and fro,” said St. Louis resident Jill Saettele, an avid cyclist who found Main Street Pedicabs on the Internet. “The parking (at the new stadium) is very limited, so they’re doing shuttles. This is the most fantastic opportunity.”
The pedicabs have caught on most in urban environments, but have also captured the attention of an array of communities with a shortage of downtown parking.
Meyer initially thought Aspen might be a good market. “But nobody who would drive one could afford to live in Aspen,” he said.
A new customer from Crested Butte picked one up Monday, with hopes of building a following in the ski town.
Long Beach, Calif., is about to get a fleet of pedicabs for its downtown.
“It’s part of the overall eclectic experience we’re trying to create,” said Kraig Kojian, president of Downtown Long Beach Associates, the improvement district for the oceanfront community. “We don’t have seasons, so people can enjoy the experience throughout the year.”
Main Street Pedicabs
• Home base: Broomfield
• Founded: 1992
• Products: Bicycle-powered taxis selling for between $2,900 and $5,000, with all the options
• Markets: Urban areas such as New York City, Denver, London, Paris and others
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Pedestrians in downtown Long Beach soon will be able to hail a cab – a pedicab, that is. The City Council on Tuesday night approved a permit for up to 20 of the rickshaw-like tricycle taxis to operate in the downtown area from the shoreline north to Eighth Street and from Alamitos Avenue west to the Los Angeles River.
The service would link key downtown areas, like Pine Avenue, the Pike at Rainbow Harbor, the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center and the East Village Arts District. Rides would cost $1 for every 1/10 of a mile as measured by an odometer on each pedicab.
Proponents of the cabs believe they can help alleviate parking and traffic congestion problems while enhancing the downtown atmosphere for pedestrians.
“It adds to the ambiance and environment of our growing downtown and provides a unique service for visitors to gain a different perspective,” said Kraig Kojian, president and CEO of the Downtown Long Beach Associates, which began courting pedicab operators several years ago.
The application was filed by Long Beach Pedicabs LLC, a subsidiary of Colorado-based Main Street Pedicabs. The company will lease the cabs to the drivers, who will act as independent businesses. The company also will sell advertising space on the cabs, the main source of revenue for the operation.
Main Street Pedicabs manages fleets in New York, Chicago, Orlando and Denver, said Steve Meyer, the company’s president. The company also manufactures and sells the cabs to more than 50 international cities including Montreal, London, Milan and Sydney. Meyer said downtown Long Beach is a good place for the cabs.
“With the Pike and the new developments along Pine Avenue, there is a lot of drawing power for the downtown area and those people need to get around,” he said.
Pedicabs have proliferated in a number of cities in the last decade, Meyer said, but not without some opposition.
Once viewed solely as a novelty, the pedicabs have come to fill a transportation niche, covering distances too short for traditional taxi rides but too long for some people to walk, Meyer said. There are now more than 200 pedicabs pedaling around midtown Manhattan in New York, up from a handful a decade ago.
“They offer something that really is not filled by all other transit modes,” Meyer said. “They wouldn’t exist if not for the fact they are needed.”
But concerns about traffic safety and uninsured operators have limited pedicabs elsewhere, including in Las Vegas. Last year, the city outlawed the vehicles along the Las Vegas Strip, citing accidents and complaints from taxi drivers.
Meyer said problems arise from a lack of regulation concerning the pedicab drivers, as well as their equipment.
Long Beach pedicab drivers will be required to obtain a driver’s permit from the police department and have an individual business license. Long Beach Pedicabs has a tentative agreement for insurance with McKay Insurance Agency, an Iowa-based company that insures more than 30 pedicab companies.
Meyer said the 21-speed, two- and three-passenger pedicabs his company produces are specifically designed for safe street use.
“It’s a single-piece frame with hydraulic brakes,” he said. “It’s not a bicycle hauling a trailer.”
Meyer said the pedicabs could be operating in downtown Long Beach as early as March 1. Initially, there will be four cabs with the number gradually increased to 20 by the end of the first year. Any further increase would require City Council approval.
The service will operate from 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily. Most of the pedicab trips are likely to originate and terminate along Pine Avenue, Meyer said. Pickup and drop off will be limited to designated passenger-loading zones. Pedicabs cannot operate on sidewalks.
Content provided courtesy gazettes.com.
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Main Street Pedicabs, Inc.™ has been perfecting the design of human-powered vehicles since 1992. Available in pedicab, truck, and delivery van configurations, each vehicle shares the refinements gained from Main Street's fleet operations in Denver, Colorado and of our customers. The Boardwalk Pedicab™, Classic Pedicab™, Broadway Pedicab™, Billboard Bike™, Pedal Pick-Up™, Pedicabvertising™ and all trademarks and logos appearing on this website, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Main Street Pedicabs, Inc.™ or their respective trademark holders. Price and availability subject to change without notice. We are a proud supporter of all green initiatives that contribute to reducing our carbon footprint.
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