Pedicabs are found carrying around passengers on event nights and gamedays. On any given night, about 2-10 pedicabs ride up and down Downtown Lincoln and often add to the nighttime atmosphere. However, most people know little about what makes these drivers a force in the Lincoln night life.
Pedicabs, also known as bike taxis, bike cabs or rickshaws, are bicycles connected to a carriage which provide transportation for up to six people. The first pedicab came to Lincoln in 2004.
When and where to find them
Pedicab drivers can primarily be found riding around Lincoln on the weekends, Husker game days, or to and from concerts at Pinnacle Bank Arena. They also provide their services for weddings, birthdays, tours, corporate events, as well as other special occasions.
“Yep, concerts and game days are the big ones. Some people come out for the bar scene so we come out and hit that as well,” said Reggie Bollinger, a pedicab driver from Lincoln. He’s spent the last five years as a pedicab driver, and when he isn’t driving pedicabs at events, he works as a social worker for a non-profit organization that serves the homeless.
“I found out about operating pedicabs from a friend/word of mouth,” Bollinger said. “I’d have to say operating the pedicab and giving rides is likely as fun as the event itself.”
Safe transportation option
Traffic Downtown can get hectic on Husker gamedays as well as during prominent events. Pedicabs contribute to the community by providing a safer and entertainment alternative to short distance travel.
“My main objectives are to help people have a good time, get people from point A to point B safely,” Bollinger said.
The job can be physically demanding
Since its creation in the 1860s, pedicabs have consistently remained a physical task in their operation. Improvements in bicycle technology is making the carrying of larger loads easier; however, operating a pedicab is still a tremendous athletic challenge which tests the physical wherewithal of the driver. Some pedicab drivers struggle to handle the rigourous eight- to 12-hour shifts.
“We’ve had guys who have quit and passed out,” Bollinger said. “You definitely have to be in shape. One time I carried like six people on here.”
Unorthadox business model
Sometimes people have turned to a bartering system when negotiating with drivers.
“People have mostly offered me food as an alternative to paying cash for a ride,” Bollinger said.
Pedicab drivers also use a unique business model when extending their services. Pedicab drivers offer their services for a generous fee, free with tips encouraged. They do this to meet with local city ordinances regarding solicitation.
“It’s really a donation; we have suggested prices, but really it’s just a tip-based service,” Bollinger said.
Unfortunately, some students take advantage of the drivers goodwill.
“Sadly, the only times I’ve ever been not compensated for the service has been by college-age individuals. Usually they say they are paying by Venmo but then never follow through with the payment,” Bollinger said.
Effect on community
Pedicab drivers also provide an efficient mode of transportation. It allows some elderly people who struggle to walk long distances the chance to traverse freely throughout the city. The service also allows families to remain closer together when traveling around Lincoln.
“Fifty percent of the rides we give on gameday are to elderly people. A lot of younger kids are getting rides for their parents,” Bollinger said.
Typically, the goodwill the drivers give to patrons is reciprocated.
“The community of Lincoln is very supportive and very generous in regards to this service. Businesses and the local authorities welcome us warmly,” Bollinger said.
And for visitors, pedicabs serve as a mechanism to explore the city. Because many of the drivers spend a significant time around Lincoln, they can offer tourists with facts and uncommon knowledge regarding the city to help aid them during their stay. For some riders, the pedicab rides leave a lasting impression.
Justin Syrko, a pedicab passenger visiting from California for the football game, said his driver helped him experience Lincoln.
“It’s an interesting way to experience the city,” he said. “My driver gave me cool facts about the city during my ride. Overall, it was a pretty cool experience.”