The Chattanooga Times Free Press published an editorial obituary for a pedicab company killed by regulations this week.
Buzz Chattanooga was supposed to schlep people around the Scenic City in the backs of oversized tricycles. Christian “Thor” Thoreson and his partner Christina Holmes hoped the company would appeal to official hoping to boost tourism and minimize drunk driving and congestion. They jumped through a bunch of hoops to get the business off the ground.
The city ordinance limited the number of pedicab permits available, capping the number of pedicabs serving Chattanooga to just six. Each pedicab permit requires a $100 fee.
Those six pedicabs have to be outfitted with a horn, a rearview mirror, headlights, taillights and turn signal.
Pedicab drivers are required to go through an intensive licensing process by the city, including passing a test given through the Chattanooga Police Department Regulatory Bureau Transportation Inspector’s office, as well as being subjected to a drug screening and a background search.
City regulations don’t allow pedicabs to cruise for passengers — they must remain parked and wait for customers. Strangely, even though cars often come much closer, pedicabs must stay at least 10 feet away from horse-drawn carriages. The vehicles also can’t be operated in public parks.
But there was one rule so silly that they were sure they could convince the city council to make an exception:
Sec. 35-251(3) of the Chattanooga City Code states that a “pedicab driver shall not operate a pedal carriage or pedicab on any bridge or in any tunnel.”
The rule was designed to prevent dangerous situations at high speeds in cramped space. But Buzz mostly wanted access to the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge where the stakes are considerably lower so that they could ferry passengers to all parts of the city. No dice, said Chattanooga.
Just a couple of months ago, Buzz owners were posting happy, overly long videos celebrating their one year anniversary. But now they've changed their tune:
Asked what he’d tell another entrepreneur considering starting a business in Chattanooga, Thoreson replied, “Stay the hell away.
This week, they decided to throw in the towel.