Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seeking Pedal Pushers in Brattleboro, VT


by Jessica Tanner
 Soon after moving to Brattleboro, VT last October I found out that the Brattleboro Food Co-op has plans for building a brand new multi-use building with store, office space, and apartments that will be energy efficient. Because it will be built in the parking lot of the existing building, the number of parking spaces will be cut in half during construction. The Co-ops Access Team spent a year looking into the possibility of a grocery-delivery service using vehicles to reduce the number of customers who need to travel to the store. After a professional assessment it was determined that this project would not be feasible during construction because it would demand a considerable amount of resources.

While living in Burlington, VT I had witnessed the Pedal Power Bike Taxi pedicab service and thought: I wonder if the Brattleboro Food Co-op could offer a pedicab service for customers during construction because a bike would cost considerably less than a vehicle and it would not pollute. I suggested this idea to a Co-op employee, and was invited to attend the next few Access Team meetings to discuss the idea further.
 I am utilizing the local taxi service to get to work at night, and had heard that the owner is interested in “Going Green.” I invited the company’s manager to join in the Access Team conversations, and as a result we have developed a plan to offer a downtown bus shuttle service to customers. Other downtown merchants will be contacted to see if they have an interest in sharing the service, along with the cost.
 The employees of the Brattleboro Food Co-op feel that they should stick to what they know best, which is running a grocery store. While they are very interested in providing a pedicab service to customers, they feel that it would make more sense to try and find an individual or group of individuals who are passionate, experienced bikers, and would like to run their own local pedicab service in Brattleboro.
 This is a great time to start a new business since there are start up loans available and the Co-op can offer both financial and networking support. If you or someone you know is interested in this venture, the Co-op would be willing to pay for a consultation with James who owns Pedal Power Bike Taxi of Burlington, I spoke with James and he is very enthusiastic about his personally-designed pedicabs which are available for purchase (or he can suggest a used bike and equipment for making your own pedicab) and are superior to the novelty pedicabs out in the market that tend to break down often. James is currently working on a grant with UVM that will allow him to build a bike that would be a model. He is also talking with City Market of Burlington about a plan to provide pedicab service to that store’s customers. James is willing to act as a consultant whenever and wherever he can to spread pedicab service over the entire country. He is willing to travel to Brattleboro and help any start-up pedicab service, including training the pedicab drivers because there is more to it than just jumping on and pedalling. He knows how to add batteries to the pedicab which would provide power assist if needed for hills. Brattleboro has a farmer’s market which would potentially be a second source for customers, and a third source might be picking up recyclables and garbage from the homes of residents with a bike trailer. If you are interested in starting such a business in Brattleboro, contact Jessica Tanner at 802-825-8331, or brattleboromobility

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