No matter what you do for a living, chances are you spend a good amount of time daydreaming of places without four walls, ancient copy machines or disgruntled customers. Last month bike messenger extraordinaire, Craig Etheridge, gave us a glimpse into the bike messenger world. So, in the spirit of earning a living making deliveries on a bike, we’ll switch from packages to people and explore the life of a pedicab driver.
GET TO KNOW Your City Before You Start Pedicabbing with the Raleigh Route City Bike
Want to be your own boss? Make your own hours? Meet interesting new people and spend hours outside, all while on a bike? Pedicabs can be found all over the country in busy city centers where tourists and locals are looking for a quick ride across town. Zach Riggs of Austin, TX explains the ins and outs of the business, pedicab perks, and what to keep in mind if you’re looking to join in on the fun.
A pedicabber getting ready to ride.
Here’s Zach’s quick list of pros and cons:
Pro: Solid community – Camaraderie is a huge bonus. “We generally hang out at one of the shops after we've all come in for the night, to share a drink and stories,” says Riggs. “We’ve also had Pedicab Prom and Pedicab Homecoming parties. Some of my best friends are pedicabbers.”
Pro: It keeps you fit – Like any job, you have to carry your own weight (and then some). Pulling two or even three people in your pedicab is a sure-fire way to see your stamina and strength reach new heights. Just beware, the first few weeks will involve some aching legs.
Con: Weather is a factor – No matter where you’re located, winter is a slow season, or even a no go. Be prepared to pedal through rain, muck, scorching summers and frigid winters.
While pedicabbing can seem like a dream come true for many bike aficionados, it’s important to know the facts about how to get started, the local laws, and pedicab protocol.
Do your research. If you live in a bustling city with a demand for pedicabs, chances are there is more than one company to work with. Look online and ask around for reputable companies with a good track record. Once you find the right company, they can help you through the licensing process and will get you out on the street in no time.
Beware of the jerk. Whether it’s the drunk on the street, handsy customers (yes, it can happen), or even competing pedicab companies, take it all in stride. Most customers will be happy that you’re saving their aching feet from a walk across town, so focus on the good guys and steer clear of the jerks.
Expect the unexpected. Whether for best or worst, every shift is different. Both the people you meet and the money you’ll earn are never the same. Some nights you may bring home the bacon, and other nights may be dead slow and chock-full of mishaps. Learn to embrace the unknown.
While there are many qualities that make successful pedicab drivers, being a good rider means knowing and respecting the laws. Rigg’s parting tip for those looking to join the pedicab ranks: “Learn the etiquette and be a team player. And smile! No one wants a ride from a sad pedicabber.”