Saturday, July 12, 2008

pedicabs - schmedicabs

One of the new and interesting topics on the Council landscape is "pedicabs". This term may elicit questions such as:
* Is it something for my feet?
* Is it a taxi service for children by children?
* Does it involve child labor?
* Are you serious?
Seriously speaking, I'm not fond of the name but I think the concept has merit. Frankly, its not a new concept but it may be new to our community. So that I don't have to re-create a lot of detail and definition, do a (search engine of choice) search on "pedicab". You should find a Wikipedia entry for "Cycle Rickshaw". Wikipedia provides a good overview on the subject.
So, why not have pedicabs (I'll use velotaxi from here on) here in Bloomington? To date, I can't think of a reason not to allow them. This is not to say the City of Bloomington is ready to issue permits on such entrepreneurial adventures. There are two key areas in our Municipal Code that provide model language for velotaxis. One section is Chapter 4.24 governing Taxicabs and Chapter 4.30 governing Horse-Drawn Vehicles for Hire. Each of these chapters contains a section concerning complaints. Those sections are 4.24.150 and 4.30.130 respectively. In essence, these sections define complaints being directed to the Board of Public Works with potential for license suspension or revocation. In short, the City is partly responsible for public's safety on velotaxis.
We will be working with the petitioner and others concerned to define appropriate rules for velotaxis. Some of the concerns I will work through are safe operating times, inspection criteria, adequate insurance, parking, advertising, bonding, driver licensing, visibility, and safe operating streets. As council members work through the process, I suspect more issues will arise. Overall, I have a positive outlook on this topic and I'm glad that at least one entrepreneur is giving it a look.
There will be more to come on this I am sure.

Mike Satterfield
City Council Rep


  1. bicycling as a business
    There are two, that I'm aware of, businesses trying to make it in this town via bicycles as well as a community project that fosters bike riding.

    * Bloomington Pedal Power is a local bike messenger/courier service

    * Fresh Air Taxis is the pedicab/velocab business Mike metions above

    * The Community Bike Project provides professional advice, tools, and spare parts to foster more people having and using bikes in Bloomington

    I'm sure there are more projects/groups/businesses out there, but this is a good start.

    GHNA President and Webmaster

  2. Looking forward to having the issues worked out
    When we were in San Diego, we saw pedicabs everywhere. They have a thriving business there. I think it would be awesome for Bloomington to have a pedicab business and I hope the issues can be worked out.

    Meagan Eller