Time’s Up! volunteers helped start the pedicabs in 1994. Pedicabs, similar to a rickshaw, have three wheels, two in back and one up front. The driver sits up front, and passengers sit on a wide, comfortable bench seat in the back. (Canopies and waterproof coverings are also available, as the weather requires.)
Pedicabs operate like a taxi in that they take passengers for hire, though without the frenzy and pollution associated with motorized taxis. Pedicab ride prices vary upon distance and number of passengers, and most rides are quite affordable.
A Brief History of Pedicabs in NYC
In 1994, around a dozen pedicabs were brought to NYC, mostly in pieces, with the idea of test marketing pedicabs in NYC, and hopefully making them permanent. Visionary George Bliss, from the Hub Station, was one of the early pioneers of this project, working with Time’s Up! volunteers and a donated space by Light Wheels on Crosby Street, NYC. At the Crosby Street space, we began to put together the pedicabs, and started introducing them to NYC streets.
On most weekends they can be seen at block fairs or eco-events, with volunteer drivers shuttling around people for free. On most weeknights we would be test marketing them around different areas of the city, and continuously purchasing more cabs.
In the early days, most NYers were not used to seeing pedicabs, and since there were so few of them, didn’t take them too seriously for their transportation needs. Most of the business, and the interest tended to be around bars, and people who had a few drinks, and therefore their inhibitions were lowered, and they were more willing to try something new.
As the years went on, we developed driver training classes for every new driver, and continuously reached out to the city for guidelines. Eventually, the pedicabs began to find their niche, and the tourists who were very used to seeing pedicabs from where they came from easily adapted to the pedicabs, and it wasn’t long before you saw lines of pedicabs waiting outside of Columbus Circle by Central Park, the Empire State Building, and other tourist sites throughout the city.
Currently, there are over 500 pedicabs operating throughout NYC employing 1,000’s of drivers and reducing carbon emissions by replacing the pollution emitted by motorized cabs. Hopefully soon, the pedicabs will be replacing the horse carriages.
It has been a really tough struggle for the pedicabs, the city had never really been friendly towards them, and presented several roadblocks throughout the years, even trying to place a cap on them (
2007). But the pedicabs have always prevailed, and the brightly colored cabs can be seen all over the city, replacing toxic carbon combustion with clean human powered energy.
Special thanks to all the Time’s Up! volunteers who put in time into this project: Peter M., Carter C., Bill D., Steve K., Bill S., Bernardo X., David P.
Now pedicabs operate 24/7 365 days a year in NYC. Most of them can be found in Midtown Manhattan taking pedestrians on short trips and in Central Park and other popular tourist locations for sight-seeing excursions.
These two companies are friends of TIME’S UP! and got pedicab service rolling in New York City:
- Pedicabs of New York (or “PONY”), and
- Manhattan Rickshaw Company.
PONY can be reached at 212-766-9222, Manhattan Rickshaw Company at 212-604-4729.