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Local woman to establish Pedicab business

BY REBECCA MORIN | NOVEMBER 21, 2013 5:00 AM

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A new-wave human-powered vehicle may soon be another transportation option for locals. Local resident Kelly Mayo is trying to establish a pedicab service for the Iowa City/Coralville corridor.

The Iowa City City Council discussed the prospect of establishing a pedicab business for downtown at a Nov. 12 work session.

“I think we’re looking for innovative ways for people to get around the Downtown District at all times of the year,” City Councilor Rick Dobyns said. “People want to get around in something that has utility and novelty.”

Mayo said she wants to use velocabs — a human-powered vehicle that includes a motor — which are popular overseas.

The current pedicab ordinance requires the vehicle to be propelled strictly by human power. Mayo’s main concern is the motor — which may classify the vehicle as a taxi — and wants to have the ordinance clarified before ordering the velocabs.

“One reason why we need to be covered as [velocabs] is because taxicabs are required by law to have four vehicles and are required to offer a 24/7 service 365 days a year,” Mayo said. “I don’t view that as safe.”

She said she is going to wait until the ordinance is changed to start buying the vehicles.

“I’m going to wait for the council to make the change, because I don’t want it to still be considered a taxi service,” she said. “We can’t get a taxi medallion until May or June, and we can’t get [a pedicab] on the road until then.”

Mayo said the idea had just come to her after first seeing a velocab while she was overseas and then saw another at the Iowa State Fair. Since then, she has researched the different types of services throughout the nation.

“I’ve been in contact with some pedicab businesses in San Francisco, New York, Maryland, and Houston on what type of cabs the vast majority use,” Mayo said. “They’re using mainstream pedicabs — which are durable — but not as sexy as velos.”

Although Cedar Rapids adopted a pedicab ordinance in February, there have been no licenses issued.

“We didn’t have a policy in place, but we thought it was a trend,” said Seth Gunnerson, a planner for Cedar Rapids Community Development Department. “We wanted a focus on downtown to be more pedestrian friendly, and we thought there might be interest in the service in the future.”

Mayo said she hopes to pay for the nearly $12,000 vehicle through advertisement.

“I want to pay for the [velocabs] through advertisement so it can be free fare and just tips,” Mayo said. “I want to try to let marketing [fund] them because there’s nothing like that here.”


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