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Bicycle Taxi Business Pedals Into Downtown Springfield

A common sight on the streets of many cities, the first bicycle taxies have appeared in Springfield, Massachusetts.

   Frank Mozell and his business partner Alex Cruz started Springfield Pedicab with two made-in-the USA bicycle-powered rickshaws and a $15,000 business development loan from the city of Springfield. 

   Mozell said he got the idea to introduce bike taxis to Springfield after seeing them in other cities and reading a city planning report that called for making downtown more family-oriented and pedestrian-friendly.

  "People are able to see the city in a different way and at the same time it is green, environmentally-friendly and entreprenural," said Mozell.

         The three-wheeled vehicles can carry two adults in a cab that is equipped with seatbelts and an all-weather canopy.  Rides can be booked online at a rate of $25 per-hour, or hailed from the street.  The pedicab business will operate throughout the Springfield Central Cultural District, which encompasses much of downtown.

After they met a few years ago in a training program for entrepreneurs sponsored by the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce, Mozell and Cruz formed an advertising business called LTLife.  Cruz said he has high expectations for their first venture into the transportation business. He envisions a fleet of 15, or more, pedicabs on the streets when the MGM casino opens next year.

" We know people love it. They get on and they have a great time," said Cruz. " It will get people to come outside."

Springfield City Councilor Kateri Walsh, who said she has hired Mozell and Cruz’s advertising firm for her political campaigns, helped them navigate the red tape at City Hall to get the pedicab venture up and running.

  "I know how hard working they are, innovative, enthusiastic and excited," said Walsh. " By the time the casino comes they'll have a lot of passengers and this idea that they are so passionate about will become profitable for them."

The new business got a lot of publicity Thursday when Mozell gave Mayor Domenic Sarno a pedicab ride on the mayor’s 54th birthday.

  " It is eclectic and unique," Sarno said of the new transportation mode in Springfield. " I am appreciative of ( Mozell) and his leg power too."

Mozell peddled down Main Street with Sarno and Walsh as passengers, led by a police motorcycle and a car with photographers. 

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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