Fay Laughridge of Council Grove, Kan., co-owns Bing Agency International, a supplier of factory-authorized carburetors and parts. In good weather, she also drives a pedicab for Tricycle Transit, TricycleTransit.com, in Kansas City most Thursdays through Sundays. This conversation took place at PT’s at the Crossroads.
You own a company that is doing well. What made you get interested in driving a pedicab?
I was in Boston last year with a friend, and we got tired walking the Freedom Trail so we took a little pedicab ride. As soon as the pedicab started moving, I decided, “Oh. This is what I need to do.”
Because my job is sedentary, and I don’t get to see people. I can run my company from anywhere on my computer, so I started checking out different areas for driving a pedicab: Asheville, N.C., Pensacola, Fla., and Kansas City. And I really liked the two guys that run Tricycle Transit here in Kansas City, and I have a son that lives here.
What kind of people want to ride in a pedicab?
All kinds. One of the most fun times I’ve had was a bunch of 6-year-old girls were doing a cheerleading camp at the Marriott. They were having a picnic outside on the plaza, and two of the little girls and their big sister wanted a ride but they didn’t have any money. So I took them for a free ride. When we got back all the other little girls wanted rides, so I gave them all rides. Their parents ended up giving me a nice tip.
Sometimes you get people who’ve had a little too much alcohol and need a lift because they don’t want to drive. They can be fun.
A lot of people just want to ride for kicks.
My very first ride was an Amish couple. They were here for a seminar. She kept tugging on his shirt until he agreed to take her for a ride. It was sweet. They wanted to go to a steakhouse in the Power & Light District.
Do you ever go back and pick people up later, or are most of your fares one way?
One way. You try not to take people uphill because the bikes don’t have motors. So you look for flat or downhill routes. I can take two slender women uphill but I can’t take men uphill — they have too much muscle mass.
Once some guys were having a party at the Marriott, and they wanted me to carry some cases of wine and beer uphill to the hotel. It was really heavy, but one guy jogged alongside me and ended up pushing the cab part of the way.
Were you in good condition before you started this, or did you have to work up to it?
At different points in my life I’ve ridden a bike long distances. When I lived in Georgia I used to ride 20 miles a day. But before I started the pedicab I had not been riding. That first ride was hard.
Is it scary sharing the road with cars and buses?
No. Traffic in the Power & Light District flows very smoothly, and buses are very nice. They watch out for us and wave and so on. I like riding in the Crossroads, too. I haven’t ridden in Westport yet. That seems a little scarier in terms of traffic.
What does it take to get a license to operate a pedicab?
You have to show a driver’s license and Social Security card. You have to have had a physical in the past three years, and you have to have a copy of your driving record for the last five years. And then there is an interview.
Would you like to own your own pedicab one day?
Yeah, I would. I’d like to own one with a motor so I can ride uphill and downhill. And I want a covered roof — the more days I can ride the better. I might make that step when I move in a couple of years. I feel like I’m on a journey.