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We arrived in New York at Penn Station last Thursday evening after taking the train down from Boston. It was slightly toward the end of rush hour and any chance of getting a taxi was going to be a wait of more than half an hour. We began walking toward the subway, and then a pedicab driver asked if we’d like to use his services. He quoted a price that wasn’t much more than a cab ride. We jumped in and he sped away.
Our driver was a funny guy and had been doing this for eight years, having started in New Orleans. This is a year-round job for him. As we headed south through Manhattan there was a near collision with a pedestrian and later on an aggressive driver. Our driver took it in stride, as did I. The trip was exciting and every bit as quick as a gas-powered taxicab.
As much as I enjoyed the experience, I don’t recommend pedicabs for Nantucket. Here are my reasons why: some streets in the city are narrow, but compared to island streets, they’re wide open. Every street had enough room for parked cars, a pedicab and vehicular traffic. Try that on Liberty, India or many other downtown streets. One stretch of our ride was over some funky asphalt. It was rough stuff. Compared to cobbles it was a walk in the park.
Another thing that stumps me is what would happen if one uses a pedicab on island and then leaves no tip, or a few coins, as it is being proposed as a tip-based fare system. I have a feeling that the parting wouldn’t be a pleasant one. I do believe that pedicab tours in and around town might be the way to go. A route would need to be set up and adhered to so as to minimize traffic problems. Also, with set fares, neither the drivers nor passengers would have anything to complain about.
For Nantucketers, who believe we live on the most expensive island in the world, think again. New York requires far deeper pockets than what we’re used to. My mother needed an extra key for her apartment. I walked less than a block and went into a hardware store/locksmith. A simple key was $7. I was shocked, seeing that the last key I had made on Nantucket was less than $2.
The paving for the Cliff Road Bike Path should have been preceded by utility poles being removed and the lines buried. That would have been too simple, and instead the paving was performed with several of the poles sprouting through the asphalt, a most dangerous proposition. Supposedly this will encourage the quick removal and changing of their locations by the utilities.
At present, there are sawhorses with small signs saying not to use the bike path. So, who gets sued when the first bike rider flaunts the warning and goes head-on into a pole? As it is, the downtown poles are gone and their wires have been buried. Now it’s time to continue to bury the wires heading further out of town. If tourism drives our economy, a good way to further the old-timey look of Nantucket would be to rid our streets and roads of visual pollution, as in utility poles. Removing the poles would make driving safer. There would be no more accidents from ramming into a stationary object when a driver loses control of their vehicle.
I was saddened to hear of Kay Mack’s passing. She was one of the nicest people I’ve had the good fortune to know.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears regularly in this space an on page 15A of this week’s Inquirer and Mirror