Stacie and I love to travel. But much to her chagrin, I am "that guy.”
You know…like I’m the guy with the camera.
For example, we love walking tours in any foreign city. She begs me not to do it but I coax her up to the front of the pack at the beginning of the tour where I start asking a ton of questions. Believe me, I get my money's worth.
Thankfully, I am not wearing white knee socks with sandals, plaid shorts, and a golf shirt. But on those tours, I am on a mission. I want to find out as much intel as possible before drifting to the back of the pack and dropping away in silence in search of a secret, hidden cafe like Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible.
When in Rome, you’ve got to do what the Romans do. So, I insist on the gondola rides when visiting Laguna Veneta. You gotta chase the bulls in St. Remis. I’m on that camel in Giza. And, when Siegfried & Roy needed a volunteer, I was the first one on stage to shake their hands.
But what I love to do the most is a pedicab ride anywhere in the world.
Love the whole idea. Love the interaction with the driver and their stories. Love being outside. Love to hear the historical information that you wouldn’t get through Liberty Travel.
It doesn’t matter if I take a ride to a medieval castle or a quick jaunt over to Fenway Park, give me a pedicab ride any day.
So last fall when I heard about Michael Gormley’s application for a pedicab license for Nantucket this summer, I was fully on board and couldn’t wait to try it out. In a strange twist, Gormley, a Portsmouth, NH native, came up with the idea after his grandmother complained of having trouble with some of the deteriorating sidewalks on Nantucket. Couple that with spending six months in Sri Lanka organizing and overseeing a farmer’s market where “everyone travels in a Tuk-Tuk” and you have the genesis of an idea that would make any contestant envious on Shark Tank.
“It sounds strange but I saw how effective the Tuk-Tuks were overseas and thought of my grandmother who struggled in town. After graduating from the College of Charleston in ’21, I just wasn’t ready for the corporate world so I gave it a shot”, said the pedicab owner who spent almost 10 months in Nantucket’s permitting process trying to convince various local boards that the idea had merit.
“I won’t lie to you, each step was difficult. But as I moved through the process, I got better at my presentations; because rightly so, they needed answers”, offered the 24-year-old entrepreneur and CTO (Chief Tricycle Officer) of Nan Tuk Tuk.
After initially presenting his idea to an advisory committee, it was moved to the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee. At the time, Gormley was in New Zealand and he could not afford to reschedule his presentation knowing summer was around the corner.
“I had to make my case via a Zoom call at 3 a.m. in the morning from outside a coffee shop that had internet using a camping light as background on a side street in Blue Skin Bay, NZ. I had a friend of mine do the local demonstration and the whole thing went horribly bad. I did not think I had any chance of getting a positive recommendation after that performance. But, I had invested a tremendous amount of time and all my money and I owed it to myself to try and move the application forward”, added Gormley who reminisced proudly about his experiences with various Nantucket boards.
By the slimmest of margins, the application was pushed through to the Traffic Safety
Work Group then back to the Bicycle & Pedestrian Committee and eventually to the Select Board where it was approved on a 3-2 vote.
“Even then, there was some doubt as to whether or not I would be up and running this summer. However, I received my license in early July and I am Nantucket’s first fully licensed and insured, pedicab company permitted to have two pedicabs under a ‘pilot season’ understanding,” added the excited business owner.
“It’s not cheap. This summer, I doubt I will make any money. Factoring in insurance, parts, and the bikes, it is about $10,000 per pedicab”, Gormley explained.
“I was persistent and needed this to happen. To me, year one is all about having a net positive effect on congestion. For my first foray into entrepreneurialism, I am pretty excited,” said Gormley who has about a month under his belt on the streets of downtown Nantucket.
What’s there not to like?
The two pedicabs stay close to the downtown area. For example, something like North Liberty Street or Orange Street is in - but something like Wannacomet Road or Hummock Pond Road is out. He is not permitted to take a trip to Surfside or Sconset, which only makes sense.
Moreover, Gormley was quick to point out that he is not a “tour company nor does he want to negatively impact cab drivers or bike rentals,” but if someone wants a “cobblestone massage,” he’s available.
If granted, he does hope to add a couple of pedicabs next summer with the help of Austin Durkin and Trevor Stokes at the wheel. But clearly, he has no intentions of over-running the island like what happened with mopeds several years ago.
“I want to incentivize people away from vehicular traffic and I certainly do not want to see an infestation of pedicabs on Nantucket. Nantucket is charming and so are pedicabs.”
Gormley went on, “I use my better judgment. I don’t mind flowing right along with the other cars and bikes in town. Generally, the speeds are slow and I just fall in line. People are cheering all the time and I think my pedicab attracts people who want to have fun.”
“I gotta tell you, sometimes the conversations are pretty outrageous. I just play along but I sense the pedicab idea has been warmly embraced by the public.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Until recently, I had never met Michael Gormley or rode in a Nan Tuk Tuk pedicab. But I can tell you that after my initial ride, it won’t be my last. This is exactly the type of service Nantucket should be offering in a controlled environment. And as Gormley summed up, “Life’s too short to worry about parking...”
Clearly, as someone interested in helping with public transportation and easing downtown congestion in a positive way, Gormley has hit the streets with three wheels turning. He would like to extend his present permit into the fall and perhaps pick up some local business and some wedding parties on the weekends. It makes perfect sense to me.
As far as my anniversary ride goes, I opted for the Full Monty approach. Yup… don’t tell my buddies but I spared no expense and went with the smooth pedicab ride in and out of town and dinner at the Galley at sunset. It was an entertaining blast.
Along the way, I suggested to Michael that he get some Nantucket baskets for the front of the bikes - found out that he did not know who “Tom Nevers” was - and we heard about his epic surfing adventure in Murderer’s Bay, NZ where he survived a surfing cyclone. For me, not a bad evening. For Michael, not a bad 12 months.
Whether you live here year around or just visiting, I suggest you jump on board and do what the Romans do when on Nantucket - and that’s riding a Tuk-Tuk. Unless it is raining, Michael is peddling away throughout the day and roaming the downtown streets at night.
On our night, it certainly seemed like he was enjoying it as much as we did; and if you don’t believe me, I have the pictures to prove it.