Critical Mass Transit

Posted on April 22, 2008 – 4:58 PM | by OldManFoster
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by Lory Gil

It was the summer of 2006. Egg-shaped bicycle pods appeared on the streets of Downtown Sacramento. No one seemed to know what the pods were or why they were there. Eventually, we discovered they were not aliens from another galaxy sent to steal our Apple-Brown Betty recipes, but part of the fast-growing, environment-friendly trend of bike taxis.


And then, as fast as they arrived, they disappeared.

Flash-forward one year and Velocab is back on the scene. It turns out that those cute little UPOs (unidentified peddling objects) were not beamed back to the mother ship after all. They were just misunderstood.

Owner Marc Christensen says the Sacramento City Code Enforcement was just having trouble placing Velocab into a business category. According to Christensen, when he approached them for a business license, they said, “We don’t know what those are, we don’t recognize them, and you cannot operate.”

After jumping through a few bureaucratic hoops and plenty of paperwork Velocab was given the green light to run in Sacramento, stipulating a one-year review when the city will re-evaluate where and when the cabs can operate, proper insurance plans and how well the new city ordinance is working out.

Currently, the cabs are allowed to operate around the Convention Center, the State Capital, the CalEPA Building, the Cathedral and Old Sac. They are not allowed to travel on 16th, J, or L streets during rush hour. At the one-year review, Christensen hopes to extend their area to more areas Downtown.

Business has had a show start. Christensen says that Sacramento residents don’t really know what to think of the Velocab. “We have to get the business people to start jumping in more, and Sacramentans to embrace it.”

Christensen’s goal is to follow the European model of integrating with the business community. “[European] tourists know exactly what to do with them because pedicabs are all over Europe,” he says. “This is a first and last mile, green alternative to the regular taxi.”

But Velocab driver Richard Reeves says the business community is a hard sell “Parking downtown is too easy, too cheap and too close.”

Richard ReevesReeves has been with the company almost from the beginning. “It’s something I really wanted to do,” Reeves says. “I still feel that way, I think it’s a good thing, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Rides usually average six to eight blocks. Clients include regulars who get rides from the office to the bus and out-of-towners just looking for something to do Downtown. “Tourists are the best because they don’t know where they want to go, and I can take them there,” Reeves says.

This coming summer, Christensen plans to have three taxi stands at the Cathedral, the Convention Center and Old Sac, as well as stops all around Downtown in the evenings. The company has been commissioned to attend local events like the grand opening of the H Street Lofts. Reeves offers one-hour history tours of Capital Park, Sutter’s Fort and the American River bike trail. “I love the Sacramento history and I love telling people about it,” he says.

At zero emissions and such an affordable rate, there is no reason not to hop on the bike taxi trend. “My rides are generally less than it costs just to get in a taxi,” Reeves says. Rides are 50 cents per block with a $2 minimum and no wait-time charge.

Reeves has been known to break the rules for what he calls Karma rides. “If I see an old lady walking with her bags, she’s gonna get a free ride whether she wants it or not,” he says.

After nearly a year of operation, the Velocab is still going strong and plans to stay that way for as long as possible. Just making locals aware of the company is helping to build the business. Reeves hopes that someday the company will be popular enough that the governor will take a ride. “Someday I hope to get Arnold in the cab. That would be great. Maybe for Earth Day.” Governor Schwarzenegger, if you are reading this, will you give Velocab a call? Reeves operates Unit 2 and promises to make your ride smooth and enjoyable.

Contact Sacramento Valley Velocab at 265-8641 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or visit their website at

  1. One Response to “Critical Mass Transit”

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    By Sacramento Airport Taxi on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Hey that is fun i am cab driver and i enjoyed riding on pedal taxi.Sacramento Airport Taxi

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