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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Davis Pedicab expands toward big leagues

The Davis Pedicab is a human pedal-powered taxi service driven by independent contractors, and this long-trusted method of local transportation is now hoping to expand beyond Davis.

The founder, Andrew Watters, started the organization with future plans of expansion in mind. Each year the Pedicab organization has progressively broadened its network, and is now beginning to move toward working for bigger places and events instead of focusing solely on Davis.

“The whole concept [of] Davis Pedicab isn’t just about Davis itself, but it is the place that ultimately serves as our home-base,” Watters said.

Watters has attempted to get a program involving his pedicab business going with UC Davis. However, despite making presentations to ASUCD and attempting to partner with Tipsy Taxi, this ambition was not realized.

“I tried to get something going with the school formally. Davis is a good place to have this future concept of ‘people moving transportation,’” Watters said. “It’s interesting because you think that they’d be all over it, but they’re not.”

For the past few years, the pedicabs, which are essentially bikes pulling attached seating areas, have provided the people of Davis with cheap, safe rides to their desired destinations. They can be seen riding around campus and downtown on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and there is no set rate for a ride as passengers and drivers negotiate a price they both agree is fair.

“I have a three-and-a-half year old, and so part of the reason I’m doing all of this is to do what I can with my experience to make the world run a little bit better. It’s a pretty simple concept,” Watters said.

Riley Sims, a first-year psychology and international relations double major, said she was playing basketball the night she twisted her ankle and needed the pedicabs to get home.

“The driver picked me up and was really nice and took me back. He was also super funny — which made the ride less painful and more enjoyable. It was a great experience, however, it was really cold!” Sims said.

Watters brought the organization to Davis in January 2011 with over eight years of previous experience.

“Davis is a local operation, but what we mainly do and what Davis Pedicab was originally started to do was to be an event-based Pedicab business that travels in and out of California doing music festivals and concerts and such,” Watters said. “So imagine 20 pedicabs at a music festival, like 30 or 40 drivers driving all day and night — that’s what we do and are going to be doing throughout the state.”

In 2011, the organization was solely in Davis, only testing out a few events. The following two years, however, they began expanding within California, and have now begun operations on the East Coast.

“Now, 2014 is about capitalizing on our experiences and basically bringing it to the big leagues,” Watters said.

During the weekend of Feb. 8 and Feb. 9 the pedicabs worked a private event in San Francisco. They are working other large events inside California, such as the Sierra Nevada Music Festival, Lightning in a Bottle and the Bloomsville Beer Festival, as well as big East Coast music festivals.

The Pedicab business is split into two separate organizations, one serving Davis and one serving places elsewhere. When the Pedicabs are running in Davis, they are officially called the Davis Pedicab. The business outside of Davis, which is called Pedicab People Movers, was more recently created to further the expansion of the Pedicab system.

Even with the growth of the organization, however, the Pedicabs will still provide rides to the students and community members of Davis.

“For the next year or two we probably won’t have solid, consistent local operations on a day-to-day basis where people can call and we’ll be there all the time. We’ll be out some weekends and we won’t be out other weekends,” Watters said.

The transition from a local focus to a broader focus is now more evident, and Watters said the cabs haven’t been getting as many calls for rides in Davis in the recent years.

“I had no idea that they existed! But one night I was walking back from my friend’s dorm and this guy just showed up and asked if I needed a ride,” said first-year psychology major Zsofia Burdsall.

Watters maintained that the Pedicabs will stay in Davis, but that they will be decreasing the local service in order to satisfy the larger events that are now on the table.

“I wish I had more time to spend locally on it — it’s ironic because I actually just moved to Davis from San Francisco, after having lived there for five years,” Watters said.

Despite this, Watters said that he did have plenty of memories from the past few years in Davis, though admittedly none as absurd as the ones from San Francisco.

“I could tell you all sorts of crazy stories, but none of them G-rated. We’re basically just dealing with the night-life and the bar scene — you deal with other people’s drama and you deal with drunk people and get them home. People puke on the side of the cab sometimes, people try and jump off it, people holler at everybody and everything,” Watters said. “I’ve had crazier stuff happen in San Francisco; Davis is pretty tame.”

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