Pedicab as a Business — Pedicabs

Pedicab as a Business

JASON PICARDbrCarlos Marti shows off one of his
  • JASON PICARD
    Carlos Marti shows off one of his "pedal cars" in Northampton on Industrial drive, Tuesday afternoon, May 13th. Purchase photo reprints »
  • JASON PICARD
    Carlos Marti shows off one of his "pedal cars" in Northampton on Industrial drive, Tuesday afternoon, May 13th. Purchase photo reprints »
  • JASON PICARD
    Carlos Marti shows off one of his "pedal cars" in Northampton on Industrial drive, Tuesday afternoon, May 13th. Purchase photo reprints »

By CHAD CAIN

NORTHAMPTON — Carlos Marti wasn’t looking for inspiration for a new business venture when he booked a vacation to Lake George in northeastern New York last summer.

But while roaming the streets of the popular tourist destination, the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School graduate flagged down a pedicab to take his family throughout the town. While riding in the three-wheeled tricycle with a carriage in the back, the Northampton native turned to his wife and told her the idea is perfect for an environmentally friendly and tourist community like Northampton.

“I loved the ride, ” Marti said. “It was different than a regular taxi. You got to see more of the town than just driving by in a car. That’s exactly what I liked about it.

JASON PICARDbrCarlos Marti shows off one of hisLess than a year later, Marti has opened Northampton Pedal Cabs, the city’s first fleet of bicycle-powered cabs that shuttle people to and from various destinations throughout the downtown area.

“I think this will fit perfectly in Northampton, ” said Marti, who lives in Chicopee. “This is what’s Northampton is all about.”

While he originally intended to buy a fleet of 12 pedicabs, Marti scaled those plans back after researching how much money it would take to buy the pedicabs and meet other start-up expenses.

Instead he ordered a pair of pedicabs for around $10, 000 from a Midwest company, leased space in the Industrial Park in the city to store the bikes and hired three operators to drive them.

For-hire pedicabs are popular in New York, San Diego, Chicago and many other cities but are just now making their debut in Northampton. The city paved the way for the idea three-plus years ago by adopting new pedicab regulations after another man sought to open a similar business here. That business never got off the ground.

Marti said his idea has drawn positive responses from city officials and other community members who like the concept.

The drivers offer rides at a flat fee of $5 per person to tourists, bar-hoppers, restaurant-goers and anyone else looking for an alternative way to move throughout downtown and its outskirts, including Smith College and the fairgrounds. Customers can only hail the cabs out on city streets.

Each cab seats two adults or an adult with two children. The cabs weigh about 150 pounds and have safety equipment including brakes and brake lights, a seat belt, directional signals, running lights, headlights and a horn. The cabs also have a canopy that can be raised during inclement weather or on hot days.

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