A new bicycle-based cab service could give you a unique ride in the Wausau area soon
Jeff Burk on one of three pedicabs that will comprise Street Grins—think Uber with bicycles.
One thing’s for certain: Jeff Burk draws attention when he rolls up in one of his bike-powered rides—a blue cab with black vinyl seating, attached to a bicycle with a fat-tire-sized front wheel.
Burk is counting on that attention as he launches Street Grins pedicab service. Burk debuted this new way to get around town during recent Wausau River District events, with cabs making the rounds to and from the various locations.
The service is still in the testing phase, Burk says. He’s looking for more drivers and working on a pricing model. Burk is using the next few months to introduce people to the concept, giving rides for tips. A smartphone app in the works will allow users to find a cab nearby.
Street Grins could be used for short-trip transportation as the number of events in Wausau grows. Take a cab to your car parked blocks away from The 400 Block. Or hail a pedicab for an elderly friend or relative to help with a long walk.
Burk is considering all these scenarios as he develops the business. An IT professional by day, Burk says he has plenty of help on the app and the technical side of things. “Anyone who actually rides it, loves it,” Burk says. “Mostly we’re just getting weird looks right now. It’s so new I don’t think people know what to think.”
The three cabs originally were purchased in Minocqua by The Glass Hat owner Gisela Marks and Wausau Coin Machines owner Mark Fitzke. After talking with Marks, Burk thought the cabs would make a perfect business and a unique experience in Wausau. That’s why Marks and Fitzke purchased the bikes, Marks says. The Glass Hat adopted a bike theme a few years ago when Third Street construction made getting to the bar difficult by car. The Glass Hat now has bike racks and a fix-it station out front, and bike themed art inside.
The pedicab service comes as the Wausau area overall is becoming more bike friendly. New mountain bike trails are under construction, and groups such as Central Wisconsin Off-Road Cycling Coalition, Wausau Wheelers, and Bike Fun Wausau provide events for people of all abilities to get out on bikes. The newly completed trail bridge is part of Wausau’s East Riverfront project. And the Stewart Avenue reconstruction last year installed wide, clearly marked bike lanes.
Burk has the idea of setting up tours of the Wausau area—something that would especially appeal to visitors. Street Grins is still a work in progress, but don’t be afraid to hail one down if you see it. Just remember to tip your driver.