Pedal Power

Somewhere in my office, I have a short list of entrepreneurial projects for the future.  Some rely on a large inheritance or a winning lottery ticket, like staring my own foundation devoted to the preservation and proliferation of truth and beauty.

Since I am not privy to any wills and I never buy lottery tickets, the Baumer Foundation will have to wait.

There are smaller projects, though, that seem within reach.  A food truck and the backyard greenhouse both have potential for fun times and at least a tax deduction.  But my “project du jour” is the pedicab.

The pedicab, or the bike taxi, is built like a tricycle.  Its design morphed from the human pulled foot rickshaws popular in Asian cities beginning in the 1880’s.  Today’s pedicab is a three-wheeled bicycle with a single drive train.  A seat over the rear wheels can comfortably accommodate two passengers.  Some pedicabs have motors to assist the driver; others are completely human-powered.

Here in Maine, the pedicab hasn’t really made it out of Portland.  The popular destination has two different pedicab companies and most of the summer business comes from the tourist trade.

I first starting thinking about pedicabs five or six years ago as a novelty addition to the Moxie Festival.  Since the festival takes place in different locations within town, the committee decided a “shuttle” was needed for Moxie maniacs who might not be able to walk from one location to another.  I suggested the pedicab.  An ambitious duo or trio of pedicab drivers could taxi folks the mere quarter-mile from the parade to the MTM Center activities in no time.  And it would cost the town nothing.

My idea was met with curiosity and probably the line I’ve heard a thousand times in my life.  “You’re so creative” followed by a backwards complimentary hat tip to my “eccentricity.”

There will be no pedicabs at the Moxie Festival again this year.  But it’s still on my list and the dream is within reach.  I’ve been doing some homework.

(Photo courtesy of Shelley Tebbutt.)

Thanks to Joe Dunham-Conway, of Portland’s Flow Pedicab, I “rented a rickshaw” and took my parents for a ride on Lisbon’s own Paper Mill Trail.  What started out as a crazy co-writing idea about the Kennebec River Rail Trail turned into something closer to home.  My two favorite octogenarians never tell me I’m eccentric and they’ve happily ridden shotgun with me on more than one hare-brained scheme.  Fortunately, there was no speedometer within sight and I did not have to hear the concerned voice of my father asking “how fast are you going?”

Turning this hour of pedal power into newspaper prose will take more than a few cranks of the drive train today.  Do not fear; I love the Sun Journal too much to let them down.

Now that I know I could potentially pedal the pedicab with paying passengers, it’s time to research buying one.  My part-time writing gig is the gateway drug to making all my dreams come true.

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