Pedicabs Aspens latest in transit
ASPEN Pedal power is hardly a new means of getting around Aspen, but the towns latest in public transportation lets someone else do all the work.A fleet of pedicabs bicyclings answer to the rickshaw recently made its debut downtown. This week, pedicab drivers mainly fit, young men are ferrying Aspen Ideas Festival attendees between downtown hotels and the festival venue at The Aspen Institute in the West End. Passengers are getting a free ride around the Institute campus or just about anywhere else they need to go unless theyre staying at a mansion on Red Mountain. Even pedicab drivers have their limits.The fleet is the brainchild of Jay Mills, owner of Denver-based Jays Valet Parking and Luxury Shuttle Services, which has been doing business in Aspen since 1991. The pedicabs debuted last month at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic and Mills is launching a similar service in downtown Denver, as well.He plans to keep six of the three-wheeled vehicles in Aspen for the summer and hopes to arrange winter service as well, as the weather permits (the carriages will be fitted with ski racks and carry blankets).Routes and hubs where the pedicabs can be found when drivers are waiting for a rider are yet to be finalized, but the service will naturally look to use streets that have the least incline.We dont want people to feel like, God, I just killed a pedicab driver, Mills said.The business plan is a work in progress, Mills admitted, but the reception from pedestrians-turned-passengers looking to get from here to there is encouraging.Riders applaud the service, confirm the drivers who are shuttling Ideas Festival participants the 15-or-so blocks between the downtown core and the Institute. Its a relaxing jaunt for those who arent doing the pedaling.I think, just from yesterday, I gained muscle mass in my legs, said driver Brian Rad as he plied the West End on Wednesday morning. Im a pretty big cyclist, but I had no idea what was in store for me.Among the driver pool were reports of pedicabbies who logged 50 to 60 rides on Tuesday the first full day of the festival. And one reportedly lugged three adults and two children around in the carriage, which comfortably sits two average adults (or three thin ones).The 21-speed pedicabs weigh 180 or so pounds. Add a couple of adult passengers and the job definitely taxing, said Mills, who carted a couple of his colleagues around the Institute campus Tuesday just to get a feel for it.It made me realize how out of shape I really am, he said.In town, pedestrians may not realize they can hail one of the pedicabs for a free ride, but people are starting to catch on. Some travel only a block or two, stepping into the carriage for a ride from the supermarket, laden with groceries, to their condo, for example, said driver Nate Josich. He is among the employees Mills brought up from Denver to work the festival this week.Even tourists who arent taking a ride are apparently fascinated with the latest in environmentally friendly conveyance.Ive had more people taking pictures of me than Ive had riding, said driver Adam Evans.For Food & Wine, and now the Ideas Festival, sponsors of the pedicab service its Chevron this week allow Mills to pay the drivers wages. They also collect tips.For the regular summer service though, drivers will depend solely on tips. The cost of insurance and the purchase of the pedicabs will constitute Mills investment in the venture. Turning a profit isnt likely in the near term, he conceded.I havent quite figured out all the logistics, honestly, he said.But, Mills envisions a service that not only offers transport to a particular destination, but also offers sightseeing tours through places like the West End. Hes hoping drivers will learn a bit about local history and share tidbits with their passengers despite the motto on the back of their T-shirts: You do the talking. Ill do the pedaling.