A new way to travel in Hamilton: Human-peddled taxis

Human-peddled taxi bikes — pedicabs — are heading to Hamilton, the owner of a company that plans to bring them to the city told city officials Wednesday.

Hamilton native William “Tony” Gray, owner of Taste Great, a food and beverage sports concessions company, wants to bring the service, under a to-be-named new company, to the city’s core area in coming months.

“We’re going to start off with four pedicabs, and the demand will dictate the total number of pedicabs we’re able to have,” Gray said. “The more the better.”

“My passion is bicycles, and being a native Hamiltonian, the revitalization of Hamilton, timing’s everything, so I think it’s time we provide a transportation option to the employees and city of Hamilton,” Gray said. “Even though I live in Fairfield, my passion’s with my hometown.”

“We’ll operate 12-13 hours a day,” he added. “The vision would be, you can simply hail a pedicab, or maybe go to a Uber app, and say, ‘Pick me up at this restaurant, and take me to this address, and it will be a nice, enjoyable, peaceful ride in the pedicab.”

Gray said he plans to stay off High and Main streets as much as possible, especially during high-traffic times.

“Fifteen years ago, he thought about it, but it wasn’t the time to do it,” said Vice Mayor Carla Fiehrer. “It’s a pedicab, and he just envisions being able to pick people up around town and taking them where they may want to go.”

Liz Hayden, an economic development specialist for the city, noted an ordinance that should be considered by the city council next month will not only allow for and regulate pedicabs, but also other tourist-type transportation modes.

“We used Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus ordinances that allow for horse-drawn carriages and sight-seeing trolleys, so this is broader than his pedicabs.”

“It’s just trying to allow for these kinds of funky, cool businesses that add to quality of life in Hamilton,” Hayden said.

Fiehrer observed that with the growth of downtown businesses and events, such as Hamilton Flea, summer concerts in the park, and the proposed Spooky Nook at Champion Mill mega indoor sports complex along North B Street, parking is becoming more difficult to find.

“How great was it going to Hamilton Flea this weekend, and there was no place to park?” Fiehrer said. “And even though it’s an inconvenience now, because where they used to park over where The Marcum (apartment and retail complex) is going to be …. That’s something where he can just be sitting on a corner, three blocks away, and take families to the flea.”

“It’ll be so visible, that you can tell: There’s something going on in Hamilton,” Fiehrer said.

Gray said the proposed Spooky Nook complex is expected to be a “significant contribution, bringing people into the city, wanting to move in and around the city — huge opportunity.”

Steve Meyer, owner of Main Street Pedicabs, which builds such vehicles, said pedicabs are “a growing thing — pedicabs add a certain vitality to a downtown area.”

They also take “some of the entertainment into the streets,” and can be used in very large parking lots to carry motorists to stores or other destinations, Meyer said.

Gray is not interested in providing horse-drawn or motor-driven transportation.

Council hopes to consider the proposed legislation next month, and Gray said it likely will take several weeks after that to begin the service.

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