Friday, March 4th, 2011
“I started riding a pedicab last summer. At the time, I had an unpaid gig organizing a big protest against mountaintop removal coal mining called Appalachia Rising. I needed a flexible thing on the side that would make me some money, so I figured I would try the pedicab. I bike a lot and thought it looked fun. I mean, you get paid to bike around and chat people up, most of whom are tourists or drunk people, which can be pretty entertaining.
“I flagged a couple guys down to ask how to do this, which I find out happens to you a fair amount as a pedicab driver. They gave me some basic information and then I went to go check it out. It looked cool, so I did it, and have continued to do it until now. In fact, I am actually a manager now. I guess that means that I have to lay down the law and be all professional. I try my best, but it can be hard at times.
“In this shop in Blagden Alley, we have twenty bikes, and about 60 drivers on our email list. We operate like a taxi cab company in that we rent our bikes to drivers for anything from $20-70 a day, depending on the day of the week and if it is a holiday. The way that the laws are written, we are not allowed to have set fares. So, some drivers will encourage people to pay what they think is fair and rely on people’s generosity to make money. Sometimes, it can get you more than you would ask for. Otherwise, you give them a quote based on what you’ve gotten for past rides.
“You know, in a lot of other places, pedicabs or rickshaws are viewed as a serious form of transportation. Here, it is more of a novelty. However, I think that as the price of gas goes up relative to the price of labor, pedicabs could have more practical transportation purposes in cities.”
Jamie also used his biking skills to ride 2,500 miles from West Virginia to Cancun to attend the UN Climate Convention in support of the environment. Read about his journey at Climate Reality Tour.
If you are interested in being a pedicab driver, contact Jamie at email@example.com.