Brooke Trout Paulus, a Bike Taxi Unlimited pedicab driver, offers some advice to Pedal with Purpose competitors.
1. What skills do you need to become a pedicab driver?
Contrary to popular belief, you need more than buns of steel to do this job. The gift of gab and a high tolerance for difficult people are also pretty imperative. I have a dream to make trading cards for our riders, because every pedicabber has a unique style or superpower, that makes them who they are. Some might be really strong, others are really fast, some are really good looking, and some are really knowledgeable about the city. Some are just terrific sales folk, really talented hustlers. The best pedicabbers are all of the above.
2. What do you love about being a pedicab driver in New Orleans?
I get paid to do my two favorite things: riding bikes and talking to strangers. The French Quarter is my favorite place in the world and is my office. When I ride down the streets I recognize every Lucky Dog vendor, street performer, valet dude, restaurant host and art huckster. I'm greeted with kisses by the door guys at the Hotel Monteleone. If I'm in a bad mood I go listen to Tanya and Doris on St. Louis. If a customer makes me cry I pedal straight to Erin Rose and fall into Charles the bouncer's impossibly huge arms until I stop. If I want a snack or a juicy piece of gossip to nibble on I go see Miss Treva at the Rouses on St. Peter. The sense of family and community we cultivate with the people who live and work in the quarter is so special. Every time I ride up Royal Street it feels like the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast, except instead of people singing "Bonjour" people yell "Hey my baby" or "Love them thighs girl!”
3. What advice do you offer to the amateur pedicab drivers participating in the Pedal With Purpose competition?
The assumption is the most athletic will win the race, but this is not true. Pedicabs are magical beasts unto themselves, and those who can harness their mystical power must emit the good vibes and positive flow that only the best Pedicabbers exhibit on the day to day. To truly win, you must not only pedal hard, but you must do it with a smile and, most importantly, the people in back better be having a damn good time, or this magical mystery ride will not end in success.
Pedal with Purpose will be held on Sunday, March 26, 1- 4:00 pm and will benefit the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). The community street fair will feature a series of pedicab races, live entertainment from WWOZ's DJ Brice Nice, St. Aug's Marching Band along with food and fun. For more information visit www.yeppedals.org.