Pedicab Business Looks To Expand Operation In 2024

Jason Graziadei •

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Pedicabs got a trial run on Nantucket last year. Now the man behind that pilot program, Michael Gormley, wants to expand the operation for the summer of 2024.

Gormley, the owner of NanTukTuk, operated two pedicabs on the island last summer but was restricted from putting more into service or transporting passengers beyond a limited area in the downtown core district. Now he's hoping to convince town officials to put more pedicabs on the streets, expand the area they operate in, and make them faster by allowing pedal-assist electric motors.

The proposal was recently endorsed by both the town's Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Nantucket Planning & Economic Development Commission (NP&EDC). Final approval, however, must come from the Select Board following a public hearing that has yet to be scheduled.

In 2023, NanTukTuk completed 1,887 rides, according to numbers Gormley submitted to the town.

"We provided many rides for people of all ages with mobility issues," Gormley stated in a memo to the town. "Many of these rides were too short for these people to justify an Uber or Taxi, but they were hugely relieved when there was an option to hop aboard the TukTuk. A great example of this was the dozens of people with mobility issues we provided rides to during the Boston Pops heading from the top of Bathing Beach Rd, where access was restricted to cars to the tent just past the tennis courts, or the concert at the beach and then the reverse of this after the show. Many people in this demographic are local. We also gave many rides to locals and tourists who simply did not want to walk. This could have been due to exhaustion from the sun, wearing heels or intoxication. People across all of these categories were hugely relieved and appreciative of the TukTuk option. Furthermore, some of them were potentially not safe and the TukTuk guaranteed them a safe ride home."

Below are the amendments to the town's existing pedicab regulations requested by NanTukTuk: 

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Last year Gormley's two pedicabs operated strictly on gratuity from customers. The new regulations unanimously endorsed by the NP&EDC last Monday would allow for a fare structure to be implemented. Gormley hopes to charge fees that would be flexible and based on demand - similar to surge pricing for vehicle-sharing apps like Uber - while the town's transportation manager Mike Burns said he hoped to see a set fee structure.

"I don't like a rigid price structure that I'm regulated to," Gormley told the NP&EDC. "The price changes per demand. Right after dinner, there's a ton of demand. When people are sitting at dinner, there's not. Daytime to nighttime there's a huge shift in demand."

Those details will get hashed out at the Select Board level.

The NP&EDC also backed an expansion to the area where pedicabs will be allowed to operate, including a leg out to Bartlett Farm Road to get people to Cisco Brewers and Bartlett's Farm. Recommended restrictions to the proposed new area of operation include Quaker Road, Prospect Street, and Sparks Avenue. The proposed map is pictured below:

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Pedicabs are a common mode of transportation in many major cities and tourist destinations - but up until last summer, they had not made an appearance on Nantucket. Despite town regulations that were adopted by the Select Board more than 10 years ago to license and govern the operation of pedicabs on the island, no one had stepped forward with a viable plan to implement them on Nantucket before NanTukTuk.

Gormley, who previously operated a pilot pedicab operation in Portsmouth, NH, also addressed the concerns that pedicabs would add to the island's already intense summer traffic congestion.

"The TukTuks proved to have a net positive impact on congestion," Gormley wrote to the town. "There are several examples of people opting out of driving into town as they were excited for the TukTuk experience. The TukTuk is a fraction of the size of a car so consumes much less space on the road than their car would have and prevents their car from circling around in search of a parking space and then consuming a valuable parking space. Furthermore, as the TukTuk is more narrow than a car, when it is pulled over to pick up or drop off customers it has proven to be far less likely than a car to hold up traffic. There was never considerable traffic due to the TukTuk."

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