By Errol Castens
OXFORD – Oxford residents and visitors soon could enjoy tours and routine transportation in pedicabs.
The city had a first reading Tuesday of the proposed changes, and aldermen could possibly vote on the issue as early as Nov. 19. Under the proposal, the pedal-driven, five-passenger vehicles could operate on streets where speed limits are 35 miles per hour or less – mostly around downtown and to the University of Mississippi campus.
“Austin (Texas) has over 1,000 of these pedicabs in service,” said Nason Williams, who partners with Randall Roberson in Rebel Rickshaw, which has three pedicabs already and five more en route. Williams said it seemed an opportunity to build a business while helping relieve traffic congestion and provide safe rides for bar patrons.
Ryan Seidl worked for a pedicab firm in his native Chicago and already has two pedicabs for his firm, Rebel Pedal, with two more on order.
“Pedicabs are all about seeing the city from a different view, getting to know it on a personal level,” said Seidl, adding that his drivers will all have had prior experience with pedicabs in other cities.
Both firms also plan to offer tours of Oxford and Ole Miss as well.
“We’re working with (Ole Miss historian) Dr. David Sansing to write up a guided historic tour for us,” said Roberson of Rebel Rickshaw. “We’re also talking with the Oxford Film Festival people about doing some transportation in February when they have their events around town.”
Both companies plan to be open year-round, with shutdowns expected only during severe weather.
Williams and Roberson said they are also planning to a similar service, Hail Taxi, in Starkville.