Any predictions for pedicabs’ prospects for profitability?

NYC pedicab

Flickr photo by J. Yung

District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall wants to see pedicabs back on the streets in Atlanta.

The three-wheeled people-pullers disappeared from the city in the 1990s, according to Sunday’s AJC story, after running afoul of the already highly competitive taxi industry.

But with pedicabs now operating in Decatur and Marietta, and a prominent council member behind the effort, things could work out differently this time.

Compact and pollution-free? Yes.

Cheaper than a taxi to go just a few blocks? Almost certainly.

But, will touists or locals take to them? They certainly didn’t seem to have any use for the Circulator bus routes several years ago, despite the effort and expense MARTA went to with buying new redesigning buses and heavily publicizing the new routes.

Horse-drawn carriages still manage to eke out some business, though. Maybe novelty is more of a draw than speed sometimes.

Has anyone lived anywhere that had a long-standing pedicab business? Ever used one? Would you?

8 Comments so far

  1. Adam (unregistered) on November 18th, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

    I would think the hill between CNN/Ga Aquarium/Phillips/Dome/World of Coke and Peachtree Street would work against a profitable pedicab business.

  2. Tamra (tlt0912) on November 18th, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

    I was thinking about that a little bit too. Not that specific hill, but just Atlanta’s hilly-ness generally. Maybe they’d give a discout if you have to get out and push….

    I guess they’d have to always go the long way – south on COP drive, then left on Marietta to get to Peachtree. It’s out of the way, but if I was a tourist I’d definitely rather spend 15 minutes seeing things along those two streets than staring at the blank walls lining Baker.

  3. atlin83 (unregistered) on November 19th, 2010 @ 9:52 am

    Just a quick note – it’s probably not a good comparison to make between pedicabs and MARTA buses. MARTA buses ply specific, predetermined routes on a schedule; pedicabs seem like they’ll operate more like a taxi, going from point-to-point rather than circulating. And one more point – I used to ride the MARTA “Atlanta Tourist Loop” routes occasionally – MARTA didn’t buy new buses; they re-used existing buses and added a new design to them.

  4. Tamra (tlt0912) on November 19th, 2010 @ 11:49 am

    Yeah, pedicabs definitely are a far superior option as far as flexibility. People who aren’t used to using transit are sometimes hesitant to get on ANY bus, preferring instead to just tell someone where they want to go and be taken straight there.

    While the modes are about as dissimilar as they come, what I was trying to say was that even good transportation ideas sometimes flop for unforseen reasons.

    But, I’ll fix that bit about the new buses.


  5. Roger (unregistered) on November 19th, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

    I’ve used pedicabs in Key West and in Victoria, BC. In Key West, if there is some big event going on, such as Fantasy Fest, you really can’t move in regular taxis because of congestion, but the pedicabs get you where you want to go.

    I would think these would be popular enough in Atlanta at least during heavy traffic events.

    I would have liked a pedicab at lunch today on Windward Parkway in Alpharetta. It took me almost 20 minutes to go 3 miles by car.

  6. Cynthia (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

    I used the pedicabs during a trip to Charleston and I absolutely loved them. Very convenient. They seemed to do the best business taking drunk people home from the bars at night.
    But the entire Charleston city center can be reached with, no longer that 10 minutes of a pedicab ride. Even just the ‘city’ of Atlanta is really spread out. If there’s a pedicab in Virginia Highlands, can it take me to midtown? Midtown to downtown? Seems too far for a pedicab ride.
    Perhaps restricted to serving downtown tourists only? I’d love to see them replace the horse carriages. Those horses just need to go.

  7. Tamra (tlt0912) on November 22nd, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

    Well, the AJC story said that Hall “hopes the vehicles…will ferry both tourists and residents on short hops around the city core and perhaps other areas such as Midtown…” So, it sounds like they’re only going to try to service a pretty concentrated area. The wait time and travel time would just make it too difficult otherwise.

    I’m always surprised to see that the horse and carriage drivers are still around because most people seem to want to get every where as fast as possible. But some people must find it a somewhat novel, romantic experience and I usually hear the drivers giving a tour guide-type rundown of landmarks as they pass them, so if you’ve never been here before and you have the personality (and money) for it, maybe it’s fun.

  8. Gike (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2010 @ 9:50 am

    Pedicabs would thrive in the ATL downtown area. That is the highest concentration of hotels/attractions. All of Peachtree St would be ideal, as well as Castleberry, Midtown, and Piedmont Park. Once the city allows pedicab, the PPC would love to see pedicab service the park. ViHi is also a great spot. That is the “bar” district that pedicabs seem to do very well in. L5P is too small, and traffic to hostile, IMO. As a pedicab owner/operator, I dont condone drinking, but a few cocktails does seem to make the pedicab a more appealing vehicle. There are a few hills around the city that are NOT pedicab friendly. Baker St would be one of those. My estimates are that a city this size could support a fleet of pedicabs 12 strong. More could be utilized at major events, but 12 would by ideal, IMO

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