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11 March, 2021

Bid for pedal powered day tours

A HUGE opportunity for eco-friendly daytime pedicab tours and transport in Cairns is being missed due to council restrictions, according to a local business owner.

By Tanya Murphy

Kim Lucas and John Hawash with rider Rudy Leduc. Picture: Tanya Murphy

Cairns Pedicabs owner Mark Taylor wants to run daytime pedicab tours taking tourists from the cruise liner terminal and local hotels to scenic sites like the botanical gardens, and romantic pedicab picnic dates on the Esplanade, but can’t due to the conditions on his permit.

Mr Taylor, whose business currently has a permit to operate from 6pm to 6am in a limited area of the CBD, has repeatedly applied to council to operate during daylight hours and across a larger geographical area so he can expand his service.

He’s also applied for the pedicabs to be allowed on Esplanade foot and cycle paths, and to have dedicated pedicab ranks at key CBD locations.

Since buying the business in 2017, he said he had already had to turn away more than $20,000 per year in bookings due to the restrictions on his operation.

“Within the last 12 months we have had to turn away around 15 weddings and a number of bookings for formals and large companies, without even marketing the product,” he said.

“Tourism Tropical North Queensland approached me about booking the bikes for 30 people to do a green tour of the city, but couldn’t due to the restrictions.

“This clearly identifies that a range of corporate, tourism and local markets are interested in our eco-transport business and wish to use it.”

He said the closure of international borders had caused a 70 per cent downturn in business and the restrictions were making it difficult for his business to adapt to the changing market and survive.

“Cairns should be leading the way as a green, clean city and taking every opportunity to showcase the city in new ways,” he said.

“I have asked the council for a fair go; all Australians were told in the last election if they had a go they’d be given a fair go and I am calling it in.”

He said he could employ 13 people if allowed to go ahead with his proposals.

A council report found there had been complaints about the pedicabs being too noisy, not following the road rules and parking illegally, but the vast majority of these had been under previous ownership.

Current owner Mark Taylor said since he purchased the business, he had worked hard with council and police to address the issues.

“We now have a system in place that works to limit noise to a set level, and we have strict guidelines and zero tolerance for bad or unsafe behaviour. The team are always supervised and undergo a training session before being let operate solo,” he said.

Pedicabs are already allowed to operate during the day in Brisbane, Byron Bay, Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglas.

At their February meeting, council renewed Mr Taylor’s permit but did not grant the changes he wished for to his conditions of operation.

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