City Paper is not for tourists
Traffic deadlocks. Detoured buses. Jammed Metro. The city’s roads and railways are completely inundated and it’s gridlock-inducing. But if there’s one traffic channel that hasn’t experienced unendurable congestion (unless you’re trying to go from the swearing-in to the parade route), it’s the bike lanes. D.C. Pedicab recognized the inauguration for its unique chance to drum up business. And it needed more drivers.
Josh Sachs, part-time mechanic at Silver Bikes in Silver Spring, heard D.C. Pedicab was looking for people for inaugural week. As a bike enthusiast who is desperate for work, Sachs jumped on the opportunity to get paid for spinning. And he’s prepared for the forecast: “I got my leather motorcycle boots and this thick layered jacket that I bought just for this job. Yeah, it gets really cold.”
The only requirement to be a Pedicab driver is to have a driver’s license. Drivers make up their own schedule and rent the cabs for 40 bucks per day. They pocket all their profits and create their own rates. Sachs, who has been driving for a week, had his best day yesterday, raking in 200 bones for six hours of work.
Sachs said that most of the Pedicabbers he’s talked to are travelers. They work full-time as professional pedalers and follow large crowds around the nation. Tourists, as you might guess, make up the majority of his clientele. “I’ve been collecting states. So far I’ve got Kentucky, Georgia, Hawaii, Florida.…The guy from Hawaii was definitely the most memorable. He had me take him 30 blocks and he was yelling ‘Aloha!’ to every person we passed.”
Some climbs are just too steep for these 3-wheeled, 21-speed wagons. Sachs found that out last week. “These people wanted to go to the Capitol to get their inauguration tickets. We got to Independence Street and Capitol Hill. I started up, but couldn’t make it. I had to drop them off at the bottom. But I ended up giving them a good rate in return.”
Sachs said he’ll be out in the wind chill till 2 this morning. “I think a lot of people are more into riding for the novelty of it. But there’s definitely a high level of practicality. I mean, it’s faster than walking.”
“Joe Temp” chronicles the District’s inaugural working class.
Photos by Charlotte Kesl