Pedicabs Beat D.C. Gridlock

Ariana Bain, left, and Sean Bailey take a brief respite from their pedicab duties on Constitution Ave. in Washington, DC on Jan. 18, 2009.
As inauguration festivities have ramped up, Washington, D.C., has clamped down. Roads are shut down, the subway is chaos and crowds are swelling throughout the city.

That's why some inauguration goers are circumventing the gridlock and opting for an old-fashioned mode of transport: pedicabs. The four-wheeled rickshaws could be seen whizzing down Constitution Ave. Sunday, speeding past the throngs who were making their way to the "We Are One" concert.

To prepare for the crush of people this week, the nation's capital multiplied its force of rickshaw drivers -- recruiting them from Boston, New York, Newport, R.I., and Denver.

After taking a test drive himself, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty even declared the pedicab the "official vehicle of the 2009 Barack Obama Presidential Inauguration." (Watch a video of the mayor participating in a pedicab race down K Street here.)

Sean Bailey, who works for National Pedicabs and has come down from Boston for some presidential pedaling, says that as the inauguration draws closer, business has picked up.

Pictured: Large crowds of inauguration concertgoers emerge from the Foggy Bottom subway on 23rd St. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2009.

"It's growing exponentially," he says, "especially as the temperatures rise."

Bailey says his company is employing 30 drivers this week. They work on tips so the fare depends on the trip's distance and the rider's generosity -- anywhere from $15-40, he says.

While pedicabs are not immune to all road closures, they do get more leeway than cars and that means a quicker commute amid the masses on the Mall.

That perk, however, may change come tomorrow.

"Every day there are more restrictions," says Bailey. "As the inauguration approaches, things will be more ironclad." producer Stephen Smith

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for