If you love riding your bike, interacting with people, and being able to work outside and set your own hours, then one green business idea to consider is starting a pedicab company. Depending on your location, a pedicab ride can appeal to customers in different ways, whether it’s being able to choose a fossil-fuel-free form of transport, or to support other fellow cyclists, or the desire to have a more visceral transportation experience.
1. What is a pedicab company?
A pedicab is similar to a taxi, where customers pay someone to take them somewhere, except their cab is pulled by bicycle. Pedicab companies exist in many progressive cities where you might expect them, such as New York City and Seattle, but their appeal, charm, and low cost of startup has helped create pedicab companies in places such as Salt Lake City, Utah, and Franklin, Tennessee.
2. What required knowledge or skills are necessary?
Bike maintenance and repair skills are essential in this kind of business, from being able to quickly do a very basic repair, such as patch a flat tire, to handling the daily and weekly maintenance that will need to be done to your pedicab. Pedicab operators also need strong legs and healthy lungs, and a hardy disposition that will let you ride in all types of weather. You would also benefit from having a charismatic and entertaining personality that enjoys meeting new people, as tips will greatly improve if you’re an engaging ‘people person’. Sales skills will come in handy as you begin to sell advertising space on the cab itself, and basic marketing knowledge can help you get the word out about your pedicab services.
3. How much money is required to start?
$$ (on a scale of $ to $$$$$) At the very least, you’ll need to purchase the pedicab itself, and while there may be used pedicabs on the market, you’ll want to be prepared to invest enough in it that it won’t be a constant source of mechanical frustration (and expenses) for you. As a pedicab driver, you’ll be spending most of the day in the saddle, so spending some money on comfortable clothes and a good bike saddle will be very much worth it at the end of a long day of pedaling. A business license is a minimal expense, and one that needs to be paid in order to stay on the right side of the law. Some cities also require insurance for pedicabs, which can vary considerably in cost and scope of coverage.
4. What is the income potential?
$$ (on a scale of $ to $$$$$) A pedicab company may make the most of their income during certain times of the year and certain times and days of the week, depending on the local climate and clientele. Some pedicab companies specialize in being the designated driver on weekend nights in areas with a lot of bars and nightclubs, and some may focus on sightseeing tours during the days. Another determining factor is the size of the pedicab you drive, because if you have a larger model, and you can charge by the passenger and not the trip, it may end up being more lucrative than doing more trips with fewer people.
5. What is the best location for a pedicab company?
Urban (best), semi-urban (very good), suburbs (poor), rural (poor). You also want to find a place to work that’s relatively flat. Pedaling a pedicab up a hill with several riders is not an easy task, so consider the routes that are most feasible for you. An area with a large concentration of potential customers, such as the city center or near transit hubs, can yield more riders with less effort.
6. Four best questions to ask yourself to find out if this business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all four, this business might be for you):
- Do you love to ride a bicycle?
- Are you in good shape?
- Are you a good ‘people person’ and have a good sense of humor?
- Do you have bike mechanic skills?