Sunday, January 22, 2012

Forbes Article on D.C. Pedicabs

The nose wheel makes an acute turn and plants itself in the six-foot-wide gap between two cars idling at a traffic light on 14thStreet. Before we have time to analyse just how our driver would steer the rest of the 10-foot-long ‘pedicab’ into that space, we’re straddling another lane line a few feet down the road between a big, red tourist bus and a truck. A few more zigs and zags later, we are in front of a bank of vehicles at least 30 cars deep, clear of all the exhaust. Our driver looks back at us and declares triumphantly, “Like I said, this is not my first day on the job!”

For the past two years, Will Visbeck has been honing his skills as a driver of a pedicab – known to the rest of the world variously as cycle rickshaw, cyclo, becak or trishaw – on the streets of Washington, D.C. It has no roof, doors, seatbelts, airbags, rear-view mirrors or stereo systems (though headlight, taillight and turn signals are in evidence) but we do get to make leisurely circles around statues and monuments as our driver keeps up his commentary of the sights.

Originally published in ForbesLife India. A link to the pdf version is here.