Belmont on bike, the story of Pedicab

Two Belmont students have chosen to earn money in an uncommon way—not by waiting tables or manning a cashier, but by biking.

Enter Pedicab, a new Nashville company which hires riders to cart up to two pedestrians in a rickshaw bicycle/cab hybrid. Donning bright yellow shirts, these employees brave the busy streets on bike, giving customers a unique way to see the city.

Sophomore Grant Robinson is one such employee.

“It is fun to help others have fun,” he said. “It’s the perfect college job for me.”

Robinson has worked for the company since last August ever since he happened upon one downtown.

“I saw one and thought, ‘Hey, I could do that,’ so I Googled them,” he said. “I enjoy riding bicycles, I enjoy being in downtown Nashville and I enjoy people.”

To be a Pedicab employee requires all three attributes, for it is about more than just getting from point A to point B.

“You have to sell the city,” Robinson said. “People have to have a good time.”

Fellow rider and Belmont senior Corey Kilgannon, who began working for Pedicab last September, adheres to this idea, as well.

“It’s more of a leisure than anything,” he said. “It’s not the quickest way to get anywhere, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Consequently, riders are as much tour guides as they are taxi drivers, providing people with a leisurely alternative to taxis or buses. They get paid by charging a flat rate of $1 per person per block and can end up making anywhere from $10-$20 per ride, of which the cyclists keep 70 percent. They just have to know where to look.

“The key to effective Pedicabbing is being at the right place at the right time,” Robinson said. “You have to be where the people are.”

Popular destinations include Printer’s Alley, Broadway, and LP Field on game days. On weekends, a standard shift could last from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.—as long as there are people to go places, there’s a rider to take them there.

Because of this, ever since Pedicab came to Nashville in August, it’s been a natural fit, said manager Andrew Ward.

“Nashville is a Pedicab town. There’s weddings, bachelorette parties, football, lots of events. People have a good time, and we help them with that.”

Nashville may be a Pedicab town, but it is not the first. The company started in 2010 in New Orleans and then spread to Savannah, Ga., and Baton Rouge, La., Ward said.

What sets Nashville apart, however, is also its greatest obstacle—its topography.

“Nashville is very hilly,” he said. “It’s physically demanding for riders. It’s also been our hardest start-up in a city.”

The company is testing assisted motors on its bikes to make both turning a profit and cranking a pedal a bit easier.

“Pedicab is brutal,” said Kilgannon. “Especially taking people up hills. It’s still hard, even with the assisted electronic motors, but they’re a complete game-changer.”

In spite of these challenges, however, Ward remains optimistic.

“We’re here for the long run,” he said. “There’s no way we’re not going to make a profit here. It’s a legitimate form of transportation for the city.”

And as hard as it may be, the novelty of Pedicab and the flexibility keep Robinson and Kilgannon coming back for more.

“My favorite part is seeing the city in such a unique way,” said Kilgannon. “And it pays really well, but it’s not about the money for me. Meeting interesting people is the whole job.”

Robinson agreed. “Pedicab makes me feel like a Nashvillian.”

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