Hail the Cab
Eau Claire Bike Cab pedals into business
The pedicab style of traveling has grown in popularity in recent years, becoming part of the landscape of major-market cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. For weary travelers seeking transportation, the eco-friendly human-powered vehicles have become a major attraction, and one Zach Barker aspires to bring to Eau Claire.
The 26 year-old Eau Claire native just launched Eau Claire Bike Cabs (ECBC) to avoid another summer of working indoors.
“I was looking for a way to be my own boss and set my own hours while still doing something worthwhile,” Barker said. “We’re finally at a point with development, and with Phoenix Park that we’ve got a fairly lively downtown area. I’m hoping this venture will help downtown thrive even further. We’ve got a sweet downtown area, with so much to do, I’d like to see this become a more viable option for people.”
“We’re finally at a point with development, and with Phoenix Park that we’ve got a fairly lively downtown area. I’m hoping this venture will help downtown thrive even further.”
– Zach Barker, owner of Eau Claire Bike Cab
The bike cabs – descendants of rickshaws – are basically bicycle-drawn carriages. “We cover from Water Street to Barstow Street and everywhere in between,” Barker said. “Although, we try to avoid the hills, and roads with faster speed limits.”
Barker drove down to Idaho to procure the “slightly experienced” yellow bikes earlier this year. From there he rounded up eight others to help drive the bike cabs. The drivers – all people he’d met through different groups or friends of friends – joined in the green effort.
“We’re all avid bikers, and all believe in the cause,” Barker said. “We feel like it’s the right thing to do, and hope it influences others to take their bikes instead.”
Barker says another one of the big reasons he got into the bike cab business was because of the rapidly increasing gas prices. Using a website, Barker figured out that the mileage on the bike cab would keep roughly 40 cars off the road over the course of the summer.
Unlike larger markets, where riders are charged a set fee per block and bridge, lifts in one of these bike cabs are free of charge – the drivers work exclusively on what tips they receive from customers.
Barker is hoping to get sponsors to advertise on the bike cabs. In larger markets bike cabs have helped develop innovative and economical advertising solutions for local businesses, something Barker aims to bring Eau Claire, even if the revenue is only enough to cover bike maintenance costs.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, the bike cabs will roam the Water Street area, catering to the bar crowd, from 8pm to bar close.
“We get so much business then,” Barker said. “I’ll pick up someone at one end of Water Street and by the time I get to the end of the street I’ll have to turn down a dozen people.”
Barker said the bikes will also be at the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series on Thursday nights in Phoenix Park, and he’s looking into setting up a system for summer river floaters as well.
Currently there is no set schedule for when or where the bike cabs will be out and about; it just depends on which driver has the cab at the time.
“If it’s 45 degrees and raining, we’re not going to be out,” he said. “But we’ll be updating our Facebook and Twitter pages whenever we have a cab out.”
To schedule a bike cab ride call 894-7005. And be sure to tip your drivers!