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City gives pedicabs a jolt just before SXSW

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by Caleb Pritchard

Just in time for South by Southwest, the Transportation Department and Austin Energy are launching a pilot program allowing electric-assist pedicabs to operate on city streets. Though current rules allow them to rove around an area roughly bounded by 38th ½ Street and Oltorf Street to the north and south, and Mopac Expressway and Pleasant Valley Road on the west and east, most of the city’s 503 licensed pedicabs don’t stray far from downtown. Under the one-year pilot, as many as 65 of the pedal-powered vehicles could be equipped with electric motors that help drivers climb hills and cover longer distances. “This pedicab electrification pilot is one of the first in the United States, according to our research,” said Jacob Culberson, acting mobility services division manager at the department. “That’s why community feedback and the collection of pertinent data is essential to determining whether e-pedicabs will travel on Austin roads in the future.” In addition to feedback and data collected from the pedicab operators, passengers will also be able to provide input through an online survey.

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