Pedicabs Denver Colorado
DENVER - Owners of bicycle rickshaws, already a popular way of getting about downtown Denver, are seizing on the Democratic National Convention as a chance to showcase their human-powered taxis as more than just a novelty.
Steve Meyer, owner of one of Denver's largest fleets of pedicabs and a manufacturer of the vehicles, wants the convention's national audience to see bike taxis as a dynamic part of the urban fabric and the ultimate in green transportation.
"People see pedicabs as like a horse-drawn carriage, sitting there on the curb for our amusement. We want people to see them in a new light, as a fundamental mode of transportation, " said Mr. Meyer, whose Mile High Pedicabs boasts a 40-vehicle fleet.
Bike-pedaled rickshaws took off in the U.S. scene in the early 1990s, in large part due to Mr. Meyer's promotion. He got them recognized early on as part of the mix in revitalizing Denver's downtown pedestrian mall.
Mr. Meyer makes bike taxis in his Broomfield, Colo., factory, selling 3, 000 in the last 15 years to buyers across the country. The biggest markets include New York, San Diego, Austin, Texas, and Miami. Mr. Meyer says he hopes greater exposure during the convention will translate to bigger business.
Pedicabs, which weigh about 200 pounds empty, can take passengers as far as several miles, but most runs are two to 10 blocks - often too short for a conventional cab, and for pedestrians encumbered by packages, ill health or alcohol, too long to walk. Most rickshaw buggies seat two, though sometimes four or five passengers squeeze in.
To make the most of the national spotlight, pedicab drivers in Denver have been in special training for weeks. Drivers are generally independent contractors, paying by the day or month to lease the rickshaws and pocketing fares.
Some drivers charge by distance; in Denver, the maximum fee is $2 a block. Others work strictly for tips. On a great night, a driver with strong legs and a winning personality may walk away with as much as $700. It's not unusual, even on a slower night, to net $30 an hour.
For as long as his legs hold out, Matt Chimes will ferry convention crowds around the city this week on a sturdy tricycle. Mr. Chimes, 23 years old, can pull 800 pounds. In an effort to boost his endurance, he's loaded up on $100 of supplements, which he says he's been told help muscles recover quickly.
He's mapped out a special diet to deliver the 8, 000 daily calories he estimates he'll need; he calls it "eating Michael Phelps style, " after the Olympic champion. And he's socked away electrolyte gel capsules for quick bursts of energy.
Greg Duran, who runs 27 pedicabs under the name Colorado Rickshaw, held a recent preconvention boot camp for novice drivers eager for the promise of fast cash, and the chance to see a historic political convention up close.
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