(The following article originally appeared on the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition website, Celebrate Sitka Cycling, on May 2, 2012.)
There are three new cabs in Sitka, but these black-and-green cabs are human-powered. Michael Bricker recently bought three pedicabs and he is launching Sitka Pedicabs this week, just in time for the 2012 summer tourism season.
Michael will pedal one of the three pedicabs himself, and he will lease the other two to Bill the Giant (that’s his legal name, it used to be Bill Payton until a few months ago) and Tess Olympia Ramsey. Michael said the pedicabs will be a good way to help tourists get around, especially when they have limited time off the boat and they have to walk three miles to get to Sitka National Historical Park so they can check out the totems before having to hurry to get back to the dock for their lightering boat. The distance sometimes was too much for elderly tourists.
“I saw the tourists looking around for landmarks, and they’d stop to ask you where they were,” Michael said. “When you let them know how far it was, you could see them kind of give up on being able to get there.”
Michael said he, Bill and Tess will charge $2 a block per person, or $15 for a half-hour tour of downtown Sitka. He said the rates are an industry standard found in several other communities. In addition to taking tourists on Sitka’s main downtown area of Lincoln and Katlian streets, the pedicabs will be able to take tourists off-the-beaten-path destinations such as the geodesic house. The pedicabs also will be available to hire for weddings, proms and other special events. He also is selling banner space on the back of the pedicabs to advertise local businesses (one of the spots is reserved for Balanced Practice, the massage and yoga studio owned by Michael’s wife Crystal Oostema).
A former member of the U.S. Coast Guard, Michael now works as a massage therapist and is a judo coach. “The judo keeps me strong enough to do this,” he said.
The pedicabs were built by Main Street Pedicabs, which sells several varieties. Each pedicab can hold 2-3 people (depending on their size) and has 21 speeds. They also have water-resistant canvas covers to keep passengers dry during the ride. In addition, they have running lights on the front and back, with working turn signals. Michael has been in Ashland, Ore., taking a two-week bicycle mechanics course from the United Bicycle Institute so he can perform his own maintenance on the pedicabs.
While Michael has been at mechanics school, Bill and Tess have been getting used to the pedicabs. They’re looking forward to the summer.
“It seems like fun,” Bill said. “We’ll be getting exercise and fresh air.”
“We already bike everywhere, so we might as well get paid for it,” Tess said. “We can show off Sitka.”
Michael is building a website, http://www.sitkapedicabs.com/, but it’s not live yet. For now, people can contact him at 752-1025 or email@example.com for more information.