Archive for Thursday, November 19, 2009

Resident hopes to start rickshaw business in downtown Lawrence, pending city approval

November 19, 2009


Think of it as a twist on the tipsy taxi.

Perhaps the ripped rickshaw?

Lawrence resident Shane Powers is hoping to open a rickshaw business in downtown by the spring, if he can convince city leaders to create a new ordinance that allows for such a business.

Powers believes there will be plenty of riders.

“Think about it, if you are at the Granada and you want to get to Quinton’s, that is a pretty good walk,” Powers said. “I think I could get some business out of that crowd.”

Powers also said the rickshaw — he plans to use a pedal-powered rickshaw instead of the more traditional rickshaw that is pulled by a person — would be available to take home late-night revelers as long as they lived near downtown.

But Powers said his customer base would go beyond the bar crowd. He said he’s working to develop a tour route that would take riders past several points of historic interest in downtown and through Lawrence’s older neighborhoods near downtown. On Kansas University home football games, he envisions taking people from downtown to the stadium.

“I think it will fit in great with Lawrence because it is really a green business,” Powers said. “And it is just fun and interesting. There a lot of people in Kansas who haven’t ever ridden on something like this.”

Powers — a student at Pinnacle Career Institute and a guitar instructor — came up with the idea after seeing several of the rickshaws or “pedicabs” operating on Austin’s popular Sixth Street.

Now, Powers has to convince city leaders that it would work in Lawrence. Scott Miller, a staff attorney for the city, said a new ordinance would have to be created that would allow the city to issues licenses to rickshaw operators.

“You want to make sure there aren’t any traffic problems caused by the activity, and that everything is done in a safe manner so that people who choose to ride in it have some reasonable assurances that it is safe,” Miller said.

Miller said he is currently researching how other communities — such as large cities like New York and smaller towns like Ashland, Ore. — regulate their pedicab industries. Miller said regulations likely would include making sure the rickshaws are properly marked to be seen at night and a requirement that rickshaw operators carry a certain amount of insurance.

Ultimately, city commissioners will make the final decision on whether to create the new city licensing process. Miller said he expects to have an ordinance for commissioners to review by early spring.

Powers hopes it comes sooner. He would like to open for business near March 1 to be ready to transport fans who flood downtown bars to watch the Jayhawks compete in the NCAA basketball tournament.


Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 7 months ago

I think it is a great idea. I don't see that there would be any problems and people would enjoy the ride. I am looking forward to being a customer.

snitty 8 years, 7 months ago

What a great idea! If Austin etc. can do it, so can Lawrence.

puddleglum 8 years, 7 months ago

we get more and more like china every day.

alm77 8 years, 7 months ago

No Seinfeld comments huh? How is this guy going to haul people up the hill to campus?? This should be interesting to see.

kmat 8 years, 7 months ago

People are just too lazy. Why are so many people overweight? Really, you need a rickshaw to get from one end of downtown to the other? It's 5 blocks! Laziness at its finest.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, he's gonna die trying that here. His "Granada to Quinton's" example is one extreme end of Mass to the other extreme. The REAL interest will be in trips up the hill. Downtown to the stadium on game days? What route will he take that doesn't get his passengers killed, or require him to go up and down the hill?

Austin: Flat. New York: Flat.

Denny2009 8 years, 7 months ago

Cold, I've been preaching this for years...I'm familiar with many small cities, such as Iowa City, but most within Illinois and Michigan that have excellent taxi service. Never understood why Lawrence couldn't grasp the idea..perhaps it would cut down on all driving incidents involving booze?? Now I realize Lawrence has a taxi service but for the 4+ years I've lived there I'm convinced they had about 2 Taxis..a joke right?. I know many skeptics in Lawrence about the idea but weigh the cost of a dui or $20 cab ride. Guess it just makes to much sense...Rickshaw? Do something practical for society

alm77 8 years, 7 months ago

Maybe he can get a motorized one? Oh, I got it!! An ELECTRIC rickshaw!! Shane, that ones free. Let me know if you need any more problem solving ideas.

I do think a historic guided tour would be great, but only if it's accurate.

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

They can call it an Electrickshaw. :)

alm77 (Anonymous) says…

Maybe he can get a motorized one? Oh, I got it!! An electric rickshaw!! Shane, that ones free. Let me know if you need any more problem solving ideas.

Tricky Gnosis 8 years, 7 months ago

SUCH a typical City of Lawrence response!!

"A new idea? FOR PROFIT? The devil you say! This requires close legal study, appropriate regulations, and a time-wasting public hearing before the City Commission!"

God forbid the City should actually encourage people to get out and work. If that happened they might stop spraypainting downtown, and then where would the stimulus money go?

ScottyMac 8 years, 7 months ago

Awesome idea, Shane. Best of luck to you, man.

tomatogrower 8 years, 7 months ago

It's interesting that those who are always defending capitalism post such negative comments about someone trying to start a business. How do you know it won't be a success? Of course it wasn't brought to you by some corporation's fat cat CEO, so it must not be viable.
And at least he's not asking the city to buy his rickshaw for more than he paid for it, give it an expensive electric motor, then rent it back to him for little money.

jenniflip 8 years, 7 months ago

I think you've got a great idea, Shane. Your ambition is commendable. I can't wait for my first rickshaw tour!

suggestionbox 8 years, 7 months ago

It doesn't mean you are fat or lazy if you don't want to walk from one end of Mass to the other. It might mean you are wearing some kickin' high heels. One can reach the north end of the stadium without going up any hills btw. Great idea for Lawrence! Chicago has this service as well-- in and around the tourist areas. They are a blast to ride.

hujiko 8 years, 7 months ago

One can avoid the hill on game days by using Mississippi and 9th.

Good idea, best of luck, Shane.

damnitimpissed 8 years, 7 months ago

Sounds good to me. Can we please have a cab stand downtown while we're at it?

Also, a kebab stand. Of the döner, not the shish variety.

I can just imagine munching on a kebab while getting carted around in a rickshaw. NOM NOM

Fluffhead 8 years, 7 months ago

Good idea! I think you could do good business here in Lawrence with that. Gotta appreciate someone trying to do something a little different.

Liberty275 8 years, 7 months ago

A fleet of rickshaws could take the place of those silly t-busses and we'd only have to worry about air pollution if the human engine refueled at the burrito place. Somebody get algore on the phone! This is super duper serial!

Phil Minkin 8 years, 7 months ago

Nightmare scenerio: Coach Mangino wants a ride up 14th street.

Shane Powers 8 years, 7 months ago

Thanks to those of you with positive things to say, I appreciate your support. A few things I would like to address/clear up: barrypenders: I love "The R" I hope that sticks as a sort of unofficial nickname.

KansasPerson: Electric assist is available but it costs almost as much as the cab, and I believe some cities dont allow them.

Couldnt find who said "insurance will kill it": It's not cheap, but shouldnt kill me. hopefully.

My plan with the stadium isnt to run from downtown to the stadium, but within about a 6 block radius where people are paying to park, a short shuttle. Lawrence hills wont be fun, but Im a young man and I think I can get used to it. Thanks again everyone for your support.

grassman 8 years, 7 months ago

This will be great for the elderly or individuals that have health issues and are not able to walk long distances.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 7 months ago

go get em Shane! This is a great idea. hell, you can hire the homeless guys. they aren't busy, know the town, need money.
I'm rootin' for ya

wendyaxlund 8 years, 7 months ago

The best of luck to you Shane, I know you will make it work!

Godot 8 years, 7 months ago

This guy is using his head and putting his physical prowess to work. Well Done! This is fantastic. Hopefully the city bureaucrats will not put too many roadblocks in his way.

Seems to me a guy ought to be able to pull up on his bicycle and offer a ride to folk without having to get a permit from the city.

Lulu 8 years, 7 months ago

This is one of the most fantasic of ideas. It brings me great joy that I may be able to ride rickshawed up and downn Mass Street Deli ghtful and wonderous in this humyn endeavour of enlightenment without so much as a poof of wind as his propulsion throughout the streets of downtown. And so it goes as it does here as it does there as it did then as it will now, this wonderful use of a heaving brute of young muscle working an ancient rickhaw for all to see and ride as well, if they like.

parrothead8 8 years, 7 months ago

Excellent idea, Shane. I'd work for you during the summers, if you need the help.

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

Foodboy -- I thought I was nearly asleep, but you woke me up with a good laugh.

Lulu -- don't ever stop posting. You make my brain hurt, in a good way.

I for one would always read a blog called "I am a Rickshaw Driver."

Adam P Atterson 8 years, 7 months ago

I applaud the idea, and would love to see it work, but I'm afraid the Fri. and Sat. night amateurs in their giant trucks would try their best to run him down, at least this is my experience as a Mass St. cyclist. You can't pedal fast enough for some people.

SteelHorseRider 8 years, 7 months ago

Pedicabs are disliked in D.C. by taxi drivers. They disrupt & slow traffic instead of reducing it and are generally regarded as a hazard. No stats to note, just a recurring opinion of cab drivers I rode with while in the D.C. area for a couple months.

firemedic301 8 years, 7 months ago

I took one in Vegas. Cost me 5 bucks and a cigarette to go half the length of the strip. Well worth it in my opinion!! Good luck Shane

grimpeur 8 years, 7 months ago


Your study, based on the comments of D.C. cabbies, indicates that the interviewees are dumbass impatient motorists who think (like most motorists) that their vehicles give them special rights. I'm sure cabbies are disliked by cyclists for the same reasons: cabbies are a hazard (especially to cyclists), disrupt traffic and endanger other road users.

Did you ride on two wheels or four with these cabbies? I'll assume that if two, your cabbie friends are cyclists, too. If so, do they feel differently about cyclists than their non-riding fellow cabbies?

heyheymama 8 years, 7 months ago

i love this idea, and can see it happening in our beautiful downtown lawrence. my concerns have already been posted: -mean spirited drivers picking on "the r" -drunk people unknowingly picking on "the r" -mean thieves,,, hope you have protection, and not the rubber kind but i'm sure all of these issues have been addressed in the other cities mentioned. i think its practical AND adorable and even much more quaint than the horsedrawn rides in nyc.

acg 8 years, 7 months ago

I also think it's a great idea. It might be fun to ride in a rickshaw, but can we get some homeless people to pull them. ; )

number3of5 8 years, 7 months ago

swan-diver has it right, if it is bike powered instead of human powered, it is a pedicab, not a rickshaw.

evilwoman 8 years, 7 months ago

i think this is simply precious! i love it! good luck!

urthatguy66044 8 years, 7 months ago

This is the most stupid idea I have ever heard.... As a previous resident of San Fran I can tell you that the area of focus is to small... If they had the ability to go further and provide more of a wide variety of places to go then yes. But the point of this type of company is to give alternate transportation to those who do not have cars.... And people in Lawrence usually have to drive downtown in the first place, so.. again... Pointless..

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 7 months ago

"Lawrence hills wont be fun, but Im a young man and I think I can get used to it."

OK, if you're confident in your athleticism... go for it. You are really gonna get a workout.

Jerry Collins 8 years, 7 months ago

Hey commissioners. listen to this cross section of comments. The people like the idea of someone providing a great service and making some money, all the while not hurting anybody. Get off your high and mighty perches and OK this. Or you could waste thousands of dollars and waste several months before acting on or allowing a great idea to proceed.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.