Pedicabs offer eco-friendly rides in metro area

Pedicabs offer eco-friendly rides in metro area

April 13th, 2011 by Emily Crisman in Community Downtown

St. Elmo residents Brad and Karenza Pentiah offer a greener way to travel within the downtown area with the recent launch of Eco-Buggy, one of the city's first forays into the pedicab business.

"I thought we needed to connect a few places downtown in an eco-friendly way," said Brad Pentiah.

He said he thinks the service will appeal to passengers wanting to get from the Main Street area to the hub of downtown, and vice-versa.

Eco-Buggy owners Brad and Karenza Pentiah, with daughter Karin, from left, show off one of six pedicabs in the company's fleet serving downtown Chattanooga beginning this month.

Photo by Emily Crisman

The mountain biker said he got the idea to start Eco-Buggy last September after using a service in New York City. Since pedicabs have been rising in popularity in recent years, he feels the region is next to pick up on the transportation trend.

"There are lots of rules and regulations to jump through in the state," said Pentiah, who officially opened Eco-Buggy April 4. "It's something new and fresh to Chattanooga, so everything took a little while to get started."

Pentiah said the city requires pedicab drivers to complete a bicycle safety class, be at least 18 years old (Eco-Buggy's are over 21) and licensed to drive a motor vehicle.

All operators must also be issued a pedal carriage license and seat belts are mandatory in each pedicab, he said. Other safety features of Eco-Buggy pedicabs include LED turn signals, headlights and taillights.

Pentiah said pedicabs boast the benefits of cheaper fares, decreased pollution and occasionally increased speed of travel in comparison to traditional taxicabs.

Customers call or text Eco-Buggy to have one of the company's pedicabs, which hold up to two adults and one child, sent to any location within the company's service area. The standard one-way fare is $3 for individuals and $5 for couples, and passengers staying at area hotels receive their return trip free of charge.

While some companies sublease their pedicaps to operators, Pentiah said he wanted Eco-Buggy cyclists to be paid employees to prevent a high turnover rate and ensure consistent service.

The company will serve the downtown area from Main Street to the riverfront stretching from UTC to Highway 27. Pedicabs will be available on a consistent basis Monday through Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m., Fridays from 4 to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pentiah said hours may be increased for special events or to meet customer demand.

The city will allow Eco-Buggy only six pedicabs in its first year, but Pentiah said the company may be able to add to its fleet following a track analysis conducted by the city.

He said he would also like to expand the company into nearby cities such as Nashville and Atlanta.