New pedicab business hopes to offer taxi alternative

Posted by on June 19th, 2007 at 10:53 am

You’ll be seeing more of these downtown soon.
(Photo: PDX Pedicabs)


Pedicab rides in this town are usually taken for leisure, for romance, or both. But 33 year-old entrepreneur Jonathan Magnus hopes his new pedicab business will go beyond this “spur of the moment” transportation.

The southeast Portland resident and father of four, is about to launch PDX Pedicab.

Magnus, who formerly worked as a communications engineer, moved to Portland five years ago. While out for an evening downtown, he noticed a lack of human-powered transportation options and thought pedicabs would be, “a perfect way to move people around downtown.”

When he got home that night he searched the web and didn’t find anything (he later came across Casey Martell’s Rose Pedals Pedicab service and has since contacted him for advice), so he lined up investors and put together a business plan.

That was back in January.

Now, Magnus is set to have his first pedicab operators on the ground (just for training and testing) this weekend. By mid-August, he plans to have his bright orange pedicabs officially available for business.

(Photo: PDX Pedicabs)

Magnus will start with two pedicabs and hopes to have ten by the end of summer. Eventually, if things go as planned, he thinks Portland can sustain 15-20 pedicabs.

Even with such a large fleet, Magnus says he’s not looking to compete with taxicabs.

“I’d like to work in conjunction with taxis. The truth is that a lot of the rides we’ll provide are ones that taxis wouldn’t be interested in. We’ll specialize in shorter, four block rides, which will free them up for the longer routes and larger fares.”

Magnus will employ a high-tech GPS system to help his drivers be more efficient. Using Nextel phones and a fully integrated GPS system, his dispatcher will be able to track the whereabouts of all the pedicabs at all times. When a call comes in to (503) PEDICAB, the dispatcher will send a text message to the closest driver and a detailed map of the next pick-up will appear on their handlebar-mounted screen.

These new pedicabs might raise concerns from traffic cops and regulatory offices. Magnus is ready for that and he hopes to be proactive in working with the city to make pedicabs an official part of the transportation mix. He says he’d even work with the city to consider a licensing program if necessary.

So far, the reception to his bright orange pedicabs has been very positive,

“We’ve been out several times and people are always really into it. It’s a great business because you get to perform a much-needed service and at the same time take a stance about an ecologically friendly transportation alternative.”

For more information, check out PDXPedicab.com. If you’re interested in becoming a driver, send an email to jonathan(at)pdxpedicab(dot)com.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

11 Comments
  • Avatar
    SKiDmark June 19, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Is he looking for drivers?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 19, 2007 at 11:01 am

    skidmark,

    yeah. he is. I\’ll update the post… in the meantime, he says to email him at jonathan(at)pdxpedicab(dot)com if you\’re interested.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Logan 5 June 19, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Hey, I saw him yesterday cranking up a hill, turn signals and all. I\’ve always wondered if this was a service that needed starting up.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    VR June 19, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Skid: The cabs are not fixies, you wouldn\’t like them.

    KIDDING KIDDING!!!

    This is really cool. I was debating if I wanted to look into riding for him on nights or weekends…

    In any event – this is GREAT for Portland.

    You know what else might work? A pedal shuttle between two points which are common destinations. Like perhaps Lloyd center to Convention Center. Or Covention center to downtown. Or Hawthorne to Bellmont. Or Sellwood to Westmoreland.

    Or wherever you have two areas where people might want to bounce back and forth…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    ellie June 19, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    another great PDX local endeavor,gotta love it! I hope to see pedicabs veiwed as another \”landmark\” for Portland\’s earth friendly image as well as add another layer of Funk.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    rgratzer June 19, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    There is a pedicab service in Santa Barbara (where I grew up), and it seems to work well and be popular. It\’s mostly limited to the one main drag. But that\’s good — they are a reliable presence.

    I think this is a great idea for downtown PDX.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Martha S. June 19, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Oooo…. nifty. I can\’t wait to see one for myself. ^_^ I think this will make downtown a more pleasant place to be.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    SKiDmark June 20, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    FYI for VR: I ride all kinds of bikes with all kinds of drivetrains and stopping devices. I even put BRAKES on a Beijing rickshaw, and gears!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Agent Bunny G June 20, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    The first time I visited Portland, the summer of 2001, there were a number of pedicabs giving free rides at a street fair to celebrate the then-new streetcar line. When I moved here a year later, they were all gone! I\’m glad to see them coming back.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Nathanael June 26, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Hm. Their website doesn\’t work in Firefox, on multiple computers. Lame.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    michael Arevalo November 14, 2009 at 8:31 am

    where can u buy 1 of those

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar