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Mar 28, 2003

Pedicabs to hit Belize City streets

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It won’t be in the next episode of “Taxi Cab Confessions”, but who knows, a trip in a Pedicab might do wonders for your soul. It’s kind of like a bike and a horse and carriage rolled into one, and while it might look funny, one Belize City entrepreneur is hoping its very appearance will entice the adventurous to go for a whirl. And that’s just what News 5′s Patrick Jones did this morning.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

In a city congested with big, fancy SUV’s, despite rising costs in fuel, there are in fact a number of Belizeans are hard pressed to come up with cheap but comfortable ways of getting around.

Enter the Pedicab, the newest mode of transportation hitting the streets of the old capital.

Marlon Estell, Proprietor, Pedicab

“Pedi is basically because you peddle it, and it’s a cab that you could transport people or material from one place to another; like a cab service. I’m, not sure where the work came from but on seeing these rickshaws and finding out that a lot of places call them pedicabs, I guess it ought to be that way because its a cab and you peddle it. It’s basically simple and straightforward.”

Simple enough that anyone who knows how to ride a bike can operate one of these machines. Marlon Estell, who designed the vehicle and is planning to mass produce them, says that while they’re ideal for the tourism market, the pedicab is really for anyone who wants to try something different.

Marlon Estell

“Originally I had wanted to bring the horse and carriage. To do it right, to make it really nice it’s a very big investment and I still want to do it, I have been holding unto the idea for years. Around the time we had a controversy with the tourists and the tourist village, around the same time they had a controversy, I think I saw it on 20/20 news about these cabs. And I couldn’t get a clear shot of if, because more than likely I would have taken one of the designs, if it had suited me. But all I saw was a bike pulling something with people in there and the following day from what I could have remembered, we started to make one.”

(Patrick riding the pedicab)

Marlon Estell

“We plan to put it our to use for locals if they use to. We plan after we launch it off maybe on the weekend take it out by the parks to do rides. Also, if we can arrange with some hotels or some of the local tourist areas to park and we can conduct rides or tours from there for locals, as well as tourists, then that would be good.”

The pedicab is built with local material and parts not readily available in Belize will be imported under a development concession granted to Estell’s company. The vehicle is four feet wide, equipped with all the necessary safety features and can transport two passengers at a time.

Theodore Gentle is the man responsible for taking the pedicab idea from the drawing board to the pavement…using a simple three phase approach.

Theodore Gentle, Pedicab Builder

“It first started with the plug mould, that’s the part where Mr. Estell comes in, and all of it is his design. Second you have the mould, and third you have the cab. Well the two phases the plug mould and the mould are the two hardest parts. Now that we produced the moulds, that thing, when we start to mass produce them, its quick time, lot of good productions.”

Pedicab tours, a subsidiary of Innovative Welding Services, will build, operate and maintain the first set of these cute rides…an enterprise expected to provide jobs to a number of Belizeans. Eventually Estell says, if things go as planned, he expects to market the pedicabs beyond our borders.

Marlon Estell

“Well for the area where we are going to have guided tours around Belize City, we definitely have to have licensed tour guides doing this. As long as you can ride a bike, you can ride it. It’s not something that you have to learn to do all over; many people get on it and start to ride right away. The difference is though, on a regular bike you turn the handle. Like on that motorbike there, the handle turns. The different with this bike is that you turn. If I want to turn, I turn my body, that’s the difference, and they are very easy to manoeuvre.”

Fun aside, the question now is: can it stand up to the rigors of Belizean street reality?

Theodore Gentle

“Its pretty strong. We noh actually banged that one to see how much it could take, but that has about five layers to the whole thing, so it could pretty much take a good pounding.”

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

For more information on Pedicabs, you can contact Marlon Estell at 610-1833.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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