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Thread: Grand Rapids, MI ready!

  1. #1
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    Default Grand Rapids, MI ready!

    Ped-i-cure for the rush hour blues?
    Monday, January 07, 2008 - MiBizBy Karen Gentry | MiBiz
    GRAND RAPIDS – Like many major U.S. cities, Grand Rapids may soon have pedicabs on the streets of its downtown district. City officials drafted proposed rules for the human-powered vehicles and will hold a public hearing on the proposal January 29. Pedicabs are human-powered three-wheeled vehicles with a seat, pedals and handlebars in front for the operator and a hooded cab in back for passengers.
    Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority Director Jay Fowler said the city doesn’t yet know what the demand will be for the one or two-seated pedicabs, however three companies have expressed interest in operating in downtown Grand Raids.
    “It’s something that’s popped up in a lot of other cities. I guess it’s a profitable business. All three recognized that this is an opportunity in Grand Rapids,” Fowler told MiBiz.
    One of the interested parties is Barton Chatman, who has undergone intense training in Denver, Colorado with a company specializing in pedicab training, marketing and repair. Chatman has formed Grand Rapids Pedicab Company, a business that is already licensed and registered. Chatman believes the timing is right for pedicabs in Grand Rapids with the new JW Marriott and more people taking part in conventions and attending events at the Van Andel Arena. As Grand Rapids grows with more development, parking has become a challenge, and taxis aren’t easily accessible for quick trips.
    “People need an efficient way of navigating their way downtown to take advantage of some of the restaurants. It’s nice to do it in an environmentally friendly and family friendly way,” Chatman told MiBiz.
    He noted pedicabs can also be mobile billboards, a very effective form of advertising to keep brands and logos top-of-mind.
    Chatman plans to buy 10-15 pedicabs from Denver-based Main Street Pedicabs. The vehicles will be leased to independent drivers. Mark Hendershot also plans to purchase pedicabs from the Denver company. He formed Grand Rapids Green Machines and plans to operate one pedicab himself and lease a second pedicab. Hendershot, a professional cyclist who races mountain bikes, believes pedicabs will benefit the city.
    “It’s a fun alternative to motorized traffic and seems like kind of a fun venture. I want to bike around and help people out,” Hendershot told MiBiz.
    He welcomes competition.
    “The more the merrier as long as there’s a corner for each one of the cabs,” Hendershot said.
    Fowler said other cities line up 10 pedicabs and shuttle people back and forth.
    Proposed rules and regulations
    A written document lists the basic requirements of being in the business of operating pedicabs in the downtown area. City representatives from the city clerk’s office, traffic safety and engineers met and concluded that pedicabs are an appropriate use of public right-of-way and recommended that an ordinance be adopted that established rules for pedicab operators.
    “An important rule is the fare must be agreed upon at the beginning of the trip,” Fowler said.
    This eliminates confusion about price, although some operators may rely a lot on tips.
    The proposed rules call for operators to be over the age of 18 with a valid Michigan driver’s license. Pedicabs must be maintained and in safe condition. All pedicab drivers are subject to all applicable traffic safety laws and city and state rules and regulations. Other rules cover situations where pedicabs can park on public property, a rule against operating under the influence while operating a pedicab, and parking that doesn’t impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic. Regulations call for each pedicab to be properly equipped, in safe operating condition with turn signals, head and taillights, proper brakes and a bell or horn.
    Liability insurance will also be required. All pedicab owners must file a business information card with the Office of Special Events prior to operation and drivers must wear an identification badge.

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    Monday, January 07, 2008 issue of MiBiz, read by upper management executives in West and Southwest Michigan. Print subscriptions are free to qualified individuals who are employed in West and Southwest Michigan. For further information about MiBiz, visit (A link to MiBiz's Web site is required).

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  2. #2
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    Dec 2004
    Decatur (Atlanta) Georgia USA
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    Best of Luck to all who enter the pedicab jungle in Rapids. I had a nice chat with Mark H (pro mtb'er). They seem to be doing everything right. They just have to deal with the crappy weather.....

  3. #3
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    Jan 2006
    Denver, Colorado USA
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    Talking Hey! I know those guys!

    I'm so glad that Barton and his crew are getting some good press. We really enjoyed meeting him and Shawn. Another student is getting up and running! Yippee!! Congrats Barton!

    That company in Denver that's mentioned is us!

    One of the interested parties is Barton Chatman, who has undergone intense training in Denver, Colorado with a company specializing in pedicab training, marketing and repair.

    Wished they'd mentioned us by name, but what the hey.
    My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dogs already think I am.

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