Campus Characters: French and history senior Dylan Jones spends time downtown as a pedicab driver

pedicab_Ethan

Ethan Oblak

History and French senior Dylan Jones begins his shift as a pedicab driver in front of Halcyon Coffee Bar and Lounge on Saturday night. Jones has worked for Capital Pedicab for over 4 years.

Carmen Rising

The pulse of downtown escalated as bar-hoppers filled the streets and the dinner music of nearby bars and lounges faded into a chorus of club beats. As Fourth Street filled with a layer of cigarette smoke, UT history and French senior Dylan Jones pulled up to Halcyon coffee bar and lounged on his pedicab. 

Around 8:30 p.m., Jones begins his long night of work. A slim young man of average height, Jones rides his pedicab with ease and poise. Several empty pedicabs sit next to Jones on Fourth and Lavaca, while other drivers circle the coffee lounge, scoping out the scene for potential passengers. Two pedestrians confidently approach an idle pedicab driver and immediately begin to negotiate a price. Jones explained that he can often tell whether or not people will be interested in taking a ride. 

“The way that my boss put it to me along time ago, is that if you’re sitting on a corner, you can look at people walking by and you can tell it’s either a yes, no or maybe,” Jones said. “So you only have to say something if their face says maybe.”

Jones began working as a pedicab driver for Capital Pedicab roughly four-and-a-half years ago and immediately enjoyed the flexibility of the job and meeting a diverse range of passengers. With the freedom to create his own schedule, Jones opts to work three nights a week starting between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. He rides through the early hours of the morning until the end of what pedicab drivers call the “power hour” from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. when the demand for pedicab rides is at its peak.

“There’s a man who owns the actual pedicab and I pay him a lease to use it, but because it’s arranged like that, I’m sort of my own boss,” Jones said. “I can start work whenever I want. If I want to take a break, it doesn’t’ matter when I do it, but it’s nice to have that sort of freedom.”

Working in the hustle of Austin nightlife, Jones says it’s inevitable to find himself dealing with difficult customers. Jones saide he once rode a frustrated passenger around until they found their lost car. Jones said that he often deals with highly intoxicated people stumbling around on Sixth Street, too. 

“I think what I don’t like about it is some of the passengers, but like any nightlife service job, you have to deal with people who’ve had way too much to drink,” Jones said. “Sometimes they get ‘fighty’ and sometimes you have to deal with that.”

Though some passengers can be discouraging, Jones explained that he often meets entertaining people. Of all the rides he gives, Jones’ favorite is picking up brides and grooms from their wedding ceremony.

“People will arrange to be taken away from their ceremony on a pedicab, and I tend to work a lot of those — it’s my favorite thing to do,” Jones said. “Everyone’s in a good mood and all the guests are in a good mood. They generally want to go to their hotel or just ride around downtown.”

Philosophy sophomore and former pedicab driver Correy Crawford said he used to enjoy meeting people from around the world.

“I met the most interesting people in my life and I learned a lot from people,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t in school when I was a pedicab and I met people who were from all over the world even as far as Australia. So many different people visit Austin.”

After working late into the night and encountering a myriad of interesting passengers, Crawford said a camaraderie stems among pedicab drivers from their experiences and stories.

“We all go trough the same thing and we all talk about the crazy stuff that happens at the end of the night,” Crawford said. “So much can happen. A lot of people say that pedicabs, at the end of the year, have aged three years.”