Pedal assist pedicabs
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Paul Kletter has traveled the world, and along the way he noticed a thing or two. Like rickshaws, which he saw throughout Southeast Asia. They were an efficient, easy way to navigate through congested streets and were emission-free. So when Mr. Kletter, 28, returned home to Upper St. Clair, he thought the time might be right to introduce them to Pittsburgh.
And so on St. Patrick's Day he rolled out the city's first pedicabs, bicycle-driven rickshaws made in England to the most demanding comfort and safety specs. Mr. Kletter's Green Gears now boasts seven pedicabs on patrol in the Cultural District, South Side, North Shore, Strip District, Oakland and Shadyside.
The man-powered vehicles are ideal for going short distances, especially Downtown, where many taxis do their best to avoid brief trips. But they can also take riders longer distances, say, from PNC Park to the SouthSide Works.
Independent operators lease the pedicabs from Mr. Kletter, who provides storage, roadside assistance and the pricey insurance that only two companies offer. Customers can form a relationship with the drivers and call them directly to arrange a ride, call the office, or stop a pedicab on the street and jump in. The rate is $1 a block, $40 an hour for special events like weddings or negotiable for longer distances and times. A cab can hold up to three people.
"We offer clean transportation, which aligns perfectly with Pittsburgh right now as one of the major green advocates in the country. We can also help the local community by acquainting people with the area and giving suggestions on restaurants, shops and nightlife, " Mr. Kletter says.
As unofficial tour guides, the drivers will recommend places they think are terrific, "not skewed by bribery or something like that." Mr. Kletter also promotes the pedicabs for mobile marketing purposes and hopes to one day offer private service to Downtown companies that would like to keep a pedicab on call.
Mr. Kletter, whose girlfriend, Mary Beth Karabinos, started the company with him, says the response to Green Gears has been great.
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