Waco is one step closer to having pedicabs, golf carts and even horse-drawn carriages gliding through downtown after the first reading of the city’s ordinance regulating vehicles for hire was approved unanimously by the city council Tuesday.
There was no discussion as the ordinance — which was previously discussed by the council — was broadened from allowing only limousines, shuttles and taxis to now allowing horse-drawn carriages, pedicabs and golf carts with licensed drivers to cart people through downtown and back and forth from McLane Stadium.
The alternative vehicles — pedicabs, carriages and golf carts — are allowed only on streets with speed limits of 40 mph or less. The ordinance must pass a second reading before it is officially enacted.
“I just appreciate that Waco is open to new ideas. What’s happening in downtown is exciting. If you don’t think it’s exciting, then you didn’t live here 10 years ago,” said former Waco Councilman Rick Allen, who plans to start a pedicab business.
Allen, who purchased his first pedicab in June, said the next phase is to find and train drivers.
The training will include a test to ensure the driver can carry weight while riding a bike, and four hours of bike-handling training.
One of Allen’s partners, Will Hutson, said pulling a pedicab is much different than simply riding a bike.
“It’s like pulling a trailer on a car,” he said.
Alternate vehicles can begin operating Aug. 19, after the ordinance’s final approval from the council.
Allen said he plans to rent out his vehicles for $20 for an eight-hour shift and 10 percent of the net revenue earned.
The routes will begin where bike lanes exist downtown and won’t charge fares for rides, but instead will be paid with tips, he said.
Drivers are required to be at least 18 years old, have insurance and submit to a background check, he said.
Allen, Hutson and a third partner, Michael Fanning, have been pushing for the amendment since they purchased 10 pedicabs during the past two years in preparation for the first Baylor University football game in McLane Stadium.
Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. said the ordinance should not only open up business for pedicabs, but anyone else who wants to provide alternate transportation around downtown and on game days.
Duncan said he doesn’t think having pedicabs or golf carts downtown will be dangerous to anyone. He said he has ridden in pedicabs many times and never felt unsafe.
“The more we can do for transportation, the better,” he said.