News / USA

Pedicabs Provide Alternative Way to Get Around

Environmentally-friendly cycle rickshaw takes people to tourist attractions in Washington, DC


Deborah Block

Grant Gaudry is an artist, but he pays his expenses by driving a pedicab in Washington, DC.
Grant Gaudry is an artist, but he pays his expenses by driving a pedicab in Washington, DC.

Grant Gaudry picks up this Vietnamese family from California outside Washington's Museum of Natural History.  He is taking them to a part of town where there are a large number of Asian restaurants.  Gaudry is an artist, but he makes his living driving a pedicab.  

"A good pedicab driver is someone who can keep the interest of their riders because one of the biggest parts of our ride is the interaction between you and the people sitting behind you," says Gaudrey.

Tourist Brandon Nguyen says, despite the traffic and bumpy streets, the experience is a lot of fun. "You're able to see both sides of the street, instead, when you are walking, you only see one side. A lot of up and down, so you feel like you are riding a horse."

Pedicabs have been used in Washington for several years.  Also known as bicycle rickshaws, they're also found in other major cities around the world, especially Southeast Asia.

In Washington, pedicab drivers negotiate the cost of a ride with their customers.  The average is about $20 for 20 minutes.  Some drivers own their own cabs. Others rent their pedicabs from companies.  Steve Balinsky, who once drove pedicabs in New York City, is now co-owner of Capitol Pedicabs.  

Balinsky says the customers come from all walks of life. "Families, a lot of couples. It's a pretty romantic thing to do, so a lot of couples like the pedicab rides. A lot of elderly, we really try to cater to the elderly."

The pedicab drivers are as diverse as the tourists they pick up.  Many are students and young working professionals. Others are in their 40's and 50's.

Some pedicab drivers do it to keep in shape. People like Carla Chandler, 45, who has a full-time job as a television news writer.

"It's fun, making extra money, and getting to meet tourists, meeting people from all over," says Chandler. "I've had riders from every state except Hawaii, a lot of international visitors. One day, in one hour, I had Iraq, Kuwait and Trinidad."

Nick Smith recently bought his own pedicab. In keeping with the Washington surroundings, he painted it with the animal symbols that represent the U.S. Democratic and Republican political parties.

"People ride and take a picture of it with their family," says Smith. "It's a lot of fun."

Tourists seem to like the novelty of riding in a pedicab.  

Dida Langsdale from Florida says the experience is unique. "Breathing fresh air, being able to see the sights, covering a lot of ground in a very short period of time. It probably would have taken us 30 minutes to walk what we just rode."

Capitol Pedicabs owner Balinky points out that the city of Washington is encouraging people to use bicycles more often for transportation. He says it is important to him to own a business that is environmentally friendly.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs