Vineyard Pedicab pushes for donations
Islanders and visitors will have a colorful and unusual new way to get around in Oak Bluffs this summer. Vineyard Pedicab offers free rides in bright yellow, rickshaw-like bike taxis, as part of a fundraising effort built around an eco-friendly form of transportation.
Each of the cabs is basically a bench made for two, drawn by young person pedaling a bicycle. The service began on Circuit Avenue last week. There is no charge for a ride, but passengers are encouraged to tip.
A portion of the daily tips pays the drivers and maintains the taxis. Another portion goes to the Pan-Mass. Challenge, a benefit bicycle race for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The Challenge is the inspiration for the enterprise that Blake Harris and Kevin Murphy of Newburyport began in 2007, then called Newburyport Pedicab, and formed as a charitable organization to raise money for cancer research.
Brothers William and John Pasquina of Newburyport saw the cabs and decided to try out the idea in Oak Bluffs, where their family has a summer house. The brothers had been coming to the Vineyard since they were children, and both John and William had been pedicab drivers in Newburyport last summer.
On March 24, the brothers appeared before Oak Bluffs selectmen, asking permission. Town officials agreed to the Pasquinas' business proposal.
At the Edgartown selectmen's meeting on Tuesday, the Pasquina brothers, as well as Mr. Harris and Mr. Murphy, appeared before the board to ask permission to expand Vineyard Pedicab into Edgartown. The selectmen turned down the expansion request because they said they were concerned about public safety on Edgartown's already crowded streets.
Edgartown police chief Paul Condlin also said he was not in favor of Vineyard Pedicab's expansion because it would create safety problems and obstruct traffic.
In a telephone conversation Tuesday with The Times, John Pasquina, who manages the enterprise on the Island, explained how Vineyard Pedicab's financial operations work. He said that company sponsorships cover the costs of operating the pedicabs and help support the Pan-Mass. Challenge.
Green-friendly businesses that include Eco MV, the Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank, Sharky's Cantina, and Squash Meadow Construction sponsor a cab in exchange for advertising messages placed on the bicycles.