Do I make this stuff up? No I do not:
After a hard week’s work, many of Columbia’s young professionals want a hard night out.
That means weekends traipsing between watering holes and planting often-uncomfortable dress shoes and heels all around the Vista.
What’s the cure for such unhealthy doses of second-hand smoke and a set of aching arches?
Entrepreneur Mike Woodland suggests a little chicken soup for the sole.
Mike’s Bike Transport is the second pedicab service in a year to start in the Vista, using tricycle-powered rickshaws to ferry around late-night crowds and visitors : particularly those in town to see USC games or big-name entertainers.
Woodland got the idea for his pedal-powered taxis this fall while watching a woman hobble back to her car in high heels following a USC football game.
He’s not the only one banking on the bikes. In June, Columbia City Council gave its blessing to the operations of Carolina Pedicabs, which could not be reached for comment.
Columbia joins the ranks of New York City, Denver, Charleston and many European and Asian cities offering pedestrians wheeled, open-aired respites from the hardships of sidewalk travel : imperiled as it can be with cracks in concrete and the occasional landmines of wads of gum.
â€œIt’s kind of a sign we’re growing up,”said Fred Delk, executive director of the Columbia Development Corp.
Woodland, a 33-year-old staff sergeant at Fort Jackson, started service in February with two pedicabs prowling the Vista.
He greets everyone he passes, offering them rides within downtown Columbia and the Vista for a flat fee of $5.
â€œSome people will bite on it, some people won’t.”
Tips are where the money is. His best customer paid him $150 to carry four people 150 yards after a Rascal Flatts concert.
Many customers see the pedicab as a novelty, Woodland said, and some consider it romantic, given its comfy back seat.
Heck, with room to cuddle, no exhaust or horse odors and its leisurely pace, the pedicab is hard to beat as the cheap date’s chariot.
Not that everyone’s buying a ride.
For about two hours on Friday night, Woodland’s pedicabs stood still, empty of customers.
But on Saturday night, with comedian Steve Harvey playing The Township, Woodland said he did good business.
Some might like to poke fun at the vehicles : one observer asked Woodland for a ride to Irmo : but Mike’s pedicab driver Drew Rowland said safety should not be taken for granted at night in Columbia.
Rowland, who also works as a security guard, said it’s a good idea for women to be escorted to their cars after a night on the town.
â€œA lot of these females walk out intoxicated, not paying attention to their surroundings,”Rowland said.”A predator is just waiting to grab them.”
Pedicabs may not have “horse odors” but as the weather here in South Carolina warms up, the pedicab peddlers may become a bit odoriferous as an evening proceeds. But will their bike-induced B.O. be enough to scare the rampaging predators away from the drunken women hobbled by high heels and their cheap dates?