Another Season and another Dollar/Pound

Spring has turned into early summer and the weather in London swings from the traditional wet and grey to bright sun and blue sky’s (with the occasional white fluffy cloud). The best part of this time of the year are the new faces, the adventurers who come to role through the city on three, peddle powered wheels, some seek escape from the ‘boardroom’ of a future life working in an office, some for more adventure and a tiny few, who’ll build an empire. Each one of us a story unfolding, as we catch the hours, days, weeks and months, butterflies in the city’s flowing river of people and transport. Adverts will catch our eyes, windows will lead us away and people will offer promise and adventures. A season is of many shades, a game of chess, a game of chance and often a leap into the unknown.

 

These Bugbugs riders will be unlike any other batch and each group have the eyes of youths and the skills of hunters, I love the slow steps at the start that some make, the huge plunge a few make and the gentle unfolding of the tales, as they meet the city head on. I’m reminded of the days I started, how everything was moving lights and smells. From the spicy air in china town to the perfume rich soho, to the mix of humanity a rickshaw rider is both a passing shadow to the saviour, to the transport pimp, all adventure is open and ready to role, so I ask myself what will this year bring and my eyes are keen to see and my heart is ready to role, the roller coaster that’s this new season.

Victory in court

It sucks when thanks to political pressure a license is not created/provided and then that same pressure is used to creat an unfair system to beat up on Rickshaws.

It’s sad that London is still a long way from a green business like the pedicabs/Rickshaws to get a license.

A much press hyped subject, in which pedicabs are vilified for trying to operate a clean transport system and black cabs can use 150 years of monopoly powers to bully and eradicate, cycle based, competition.

One of our riders was arrested for ‘stopping longer then is necessary and obstruction’, he speaks English very slow and was never given a chance to explain nore a quarter given to operate his service thanks to mayor Borises policy to beat up on the industry (30,000 black cab votes ensure this). His pedicab has been impounded for 7 months and we had to find £1500 if he wanted to plead ‘not guilty’ and to swallow loosing our income from the pedicab. A choice, which is much more costly then pleading ‘guilty’ which equals, a minor fine but another bad long term mark for the industry!

Yesterday was the grand finally and in summery it was the lack of evidence by the police which won our case.
Sadly, it’s more usual, the lack of video evidence for a rider to prove that he is innocent which turns the whole process of ‘guilty’ till proven innocent on it’s head.

Thankfully, this was based on the more traditional ‘innocent till proven guilty’.

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Running a zero emission business

I was asked what made the company I run different from my competitors. Well, to start with Bugbugs is London’s oldest pedicab company, we started the ball rolling and work hard at keeping it rolling, both in standards and our future vision for London’s zero emission transport. It’s not easy, because the whole ‘industry is free as a bird’, no easy win for business when any one with three wheels can cut my throat on price – if you operate with cheap equipment, no insurance and don’t train or fix your bikes, then what you make you keep.

So how to fight? Well, like building a house. You plan for a future, you invest in good equipment and you try to keep principals on what you set out to do.
Then you tell any client, it’s easy to spot the difference, even if they just visit us first. Bugbugs has an address, not a spot in an NCP car park.

Our equipment was made in the UK, everything from the metal up is good & a traceable standard. Next step, landline, good information storage, risk assessments & some good photos of our work. Next our sales pitch –

Our London rickshaws are available for media, corporate events, private hire, promotions, weddings, as event shuttles and are great for outdoor advertising media and handing out samples.

Bugbugs is different from other London ricksaw operators; we are a not for profit business, dedicated to providing full time or part-time jobs in London, provide guidance and advice on how to set a pedicab company up but also work with a number of charities to prevent food from becoming waste.

All bugbugs riders have passed our stringent in house pedicab training course, and are fully insured to carry passengers, this training is also the foundation of the 2006 PCOs consultation and is used as the model for all other companies in an expected license. The training includes levels 1, 2 and 3 of the national standard for cycling, recognised through out the UK, to ensure that our riders know how to use the roads in the UK and that that knowledge is uptodate.

Bugbugs fleet of London pedicabs provide, proven, socially aware and unique outdoor advertising opportunities in London’s West End or further afield, so why not become one of our sponsors and book us for a media campaign as part of your social responsibility to young people and the environment?

Job done

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Rickshaw Life

The great thing about ridding Rickshaw, is not only the chance to take a break when you want to but is also, that when the weather is good the life on the Bugbugs becomes a perfect dream.

A bunch of us went along the Thames river path and the sight is one which makes me fall in love with this fab city. Green is the main colour and once you leave the angry people stuck in cars behind, cycling is akin to floating through the air. Silence, trees, birds, splash of water on the banks ….. Life as it should be.

Not every one wants or cares to slow down to the speed of nature but a bike is a great start.

I hope who ever you are, that you take the time to soak up the sun, drink in the light falling through trees and let this general life touch your soul. Peace and love 😉

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Perfect bike and great drivers

This clip reminds me of the many times that I’ve been on my bike and meet nice drivers, drivers who actually give way to a cyclist, so that you can clear a junction before they turn. As a cyclist I know how vulnerable one is when traveling on a bike and over the years had a few near misses and two hits.

The thing about the roads is that people do make mistakes but actually don’t mean to cause harm. If some one does not see you, then the risk is greater for the cyclist, as he has the least protection from two or three tons of metal but it’s amazing how many drivers are starting to think about cyclist or for that matter, have started to cycle.

To my surprise, I even meet a taxi driver practising his cycling skills in Finsbury park on a bromton, so what ever next?

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Clean City Awards

Today was looking through all my back log on social media and was happy to see a project we helped with in 2010.

The story started on a Tuesday afternoon when a nice lady popped in to try and find her husband some work. I explained our riders were all self-employed, so yes he would be welcome to work with us.

A few days later Lourival Cuquinha, her husband came for the training, he was a thin build, very smily but spoke mostly pidgin English. We managed to get through the days training and he launched himself into the westend with a huge grin.

On his first day came back with just over £12, which was low but he was grinning from ear to ear. Over the next few days he improved greatly and finally started to earn enough to pay rental for his families flat.

On speaking with him, it turned out he was an artist and from this we started to just chat about his work, in part to improve his English but also to start thinking on an art project he had in mind.

I think it took two years before he finally had a strong project in mind. The first was a flag which would be made from the money he earned as a rider, which became the ‘union jack pound flag’.

The 2nd was a more elaborate installation which involved 3x scrap pedicabs which had been dumped by the owner on us at Bugbugs.

The flag project went slowly but surely and was only disrupted when he had a big bill to pay. To make up the loss of flag material he sold parts of the flag as shares to fellow riders, like myself and used the ‘investment’ to complete the flag. The flag was entered in an arts festival and became the top selling item at £17,000. The story’s which were attached to the flag were also amazing, as the £1000 he had sown it together with, took months of work.

The 2nd project, was in my view the most empowering, as it involved recycling which I’m very fond of.

The three front loading trikes had been dumped, along with a number of others, which in a large part we managed to give to schools as engineering projects, a world record attempt by Tim Moss and this art project by Lourival.

As a rider he spent many days cycling looking for customers and he was amused at how for the most part the work was a form of entertainment.

So one day he approached me and asked wether I would help him to assemble three trikes in a circle and if we could power a mirror or projector to rotate an image.

After much work, cleaning, fixing and welding, we found a way to secure and get operational three trikes.

By peddling the viewer would creat power to get a motor to run a mirror mounted on a wheel, which would project an image, which would in turn be of a camera on a wheel traveling in a Rickshaw.

I’ve now sean this project reach it’s goal of having traveled to Brasil and on show at one of the galleries. Amazing what a dream can do, with a little help and opportunity.

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Want to work, then find work

Just tweeting about how few of my fellow riders are English, kind of sad, as it’s a great way to meet people, make money and do a good thing for London.

The type of Rickshaw rider that seams to thrive and goes in to build bigger things are those that have a sense of adventure. Things become possible and life opens up when you work. I’ve never heard of an unemployed person getting a pay rise, so why would you write yourself off?

If you are an artist, then it’s a great way to gain experiences, for musician a super way to get flexibility and contacts, for a wana be star, future rich person ….. all good!!

The only down side is you need to like fresh air, exercise, people and making money. So what’s stopping my fellow local persons?! The brain, the brain that said, that’s not for me, I can’t do that, it’s not safe, no good, to hard, to strange and they say bad things about them ……

So, to live life or to wait for time to pass? I chose 13 years ago to change my life for the better and it happened, going from unhappy working in a cash handling centre to being a Rickshaw rider, with loads of life 😉

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