The Oxford Board of Aldermen voted Nov. 19 to authorize a plan to operate pedicabs in the city after a 30-day waiting period.
Nason Williams and Randall Roberson are the owners of the company that will operate a fleet of specially outfitted five-passenger bikes. Williams and Roberson believe the modified bikes will significantly relieve some of the chronic traffic and parking problems that frustrated Oxonians this football season.
Mayor Pat Patterson agrees: ‘We’ve always loved the idea of Pedicabs — and now that we’ve seen the details, the city fully supports this concept,” Mayor Patterson said in a recent interview. “We believe all safety issues have been addressed.”
If pedal power is going to revolutionize Oxford transportation, safety is the No. 1 concern. “We’re planning a fleet of eight pedicabs and we want Oxford to know that these vehicles are highly safe, equipped with seatbelts, head and tail lights and 10 times the insurance coverage mandated by the city for public transportation,” explained Williams. “Our drivers will be background-checked and complete a special training class. It’s virtually impossible for these bikes to tip over and their turning radius is far smaller than a normal bicycle.”
The Ole Miss grad says he and his partner Randall Roberson (another Ole Miss alum) got the idea at the Ole Miss, Texas game in Austin. They observed Texas’ 100-bike operation in action. “I said to myself this system is working beautifully. Why can’t we bring the same fun, environmentally sound transportation service to Oxford, where everyone concedes traffic and parking are a real problem,” Williams wondered.
Pedicab’s service territory will be targeted on the Ole Miss campus, the square and adjacent streets. Cost will be an affordable $3 per passenger. The vehicles won’t operate on Jackson or on any street where speed limits exceed 35 miles per hour, but they will run 365 days a year.
“Our intent is not to be a taxi service to take people to their subdivisions,” Williams said. “We will greatly enhance transportation between the campus and the square, but we also think our historical tours, which we’re developing with the help of Ole Miss professor and historian David G. Sansing, will be a great hit. Traffic congestion will always be a problem on football gamedays as 60,000 to 70,000 people try to leave at the same time, but for people who aren’t parked on campus, we can definitely improve their experience in getting back to their vehicles.
The eight-pedicab service, which Williams hopes to eventually triple, will handle parties up to 40. But the adaptable pedicabs will also be available for wedding parties, suitably decked out in white. Speaking of detailed pedicabs, Williams says three of Oxford’s fleet were used to transport actors in HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones. “In fact, if you look closely, you can see a bit of the red simulated blood near the wheels of the re-painted black bikes,” Williams said.
The bikes offer great opportunity for advertisers with wrap-around, large-image visibility on the easily spotted bikes.
“We’re grateful to the city for their support on this plan,” Roberson said. “The process has gone as well as we could have expected.”
Roberson added that the cabs are electric assisted to help with starting and climbing hills and will safely handle the weight capacity of groups up to five.
“We’re holding back the full launch of the service until after January when we’ll have all our student drivers in town,” Roberson said. “We are working with the aldermen to plan a city Christmas Light tour.”