Local News

Rickshaws Add to Evolving Downtown

Posted March 29, 2008

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— At night in downtown Raleigh, they're practically everywhere between Fayetteville Street and Glenwood South, as well as the Warehouse District.

Rickshaws are providing a different, and eco-friendly, form of transportation for visitors to the ever-changing downtown cityscape.

Donald Mertraud, whose company, Raleigh Rickshaw, is peddling the alternative means of getting around, calls it "transportainment."

The company started last April, and Mertraud says the reopening of Fayetteville Street was the economic engine that got the business off the ground.

In 10 months, he tripled his staff.

"The activity on Fayetteville Street has been crucial – people wanting to go to dinner there and then, have a drink on Glenwood South," Mertraud said.

That's about a 2-mile ride. And depending on the shift, drivers can peddle anywhere from 10 to 30 miles. For rickshaw driver Brian Williamson, it's all in a day's work.

"You have a chance to stay in shape. You stay busy," he said. "It's a great cardio workout. You're meeting people, and you're showing people a side of Raleigh they don't see riding in a car."

Customers taking advantage of the open air ride say it's a new way to check out the city.

"I am seeing more than I've ever seen, because when you're riding in a car, you're confined," downtown visitor Cynthia Kendall said.

Raleigh Rickshaw is also a model for similar companies around the country. This weekend, business owners from Denver, Asheville and Albany, among others, are in Raleigh checking out how the company does business.

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