As classes end and summer approaches, San Francisco will offer some unusual opportunities for job-seeking students. One such opportunity is being an unofficial mobile tour guide as a pedicab driver.
Pedicabs, bicycles attached to two-seat passenger compartments, are a unique way to get around in some of the city’s more tourist-friendly neighborhoods and are an opportunity for some students to work a flexible, interesting job during the summer months.
“What I liken it to is being a gondolier in Italy,” said Chris Donovan, a pedicab driver for about three years. “That’s kind of physical and you’re taking people around.”
Golden Gate Pedicabs is a San Francisco company that primarily hires students and is continually hiring, although there is an age limit of 21 for applicants.
“We have 15 pedicabs and our drivers sign up on a first come, first serve basis,” said Golden Gate Pedicabs Manager James Tracy.
UC Santa Cruz astrophysics major Scott Lange said he loves the job that has allowed him to meet different people.
“You meet people from all over the world so you get to have some interesting conversations,” Lange said.
It is, however, still seasonal work.
“Right now this is my only job,” Donovan said. “You know you’re never gonna make a million dollars. You can get by. You pay your bills, you can afford an apartment.”
Lange said being a student and a driver is an easy job because of the flexibility that being a pedicab driver offers.
“It’s super flexible. I work when I need to,” Lange said. “This past week when I had midterms, I was studying. Summertime you hit it hard like five, six, seven days a week and three or four times in the winter. It’s definitely a good job.”
Lugging around 300 pounds of cargo can be tough, but some drivers said one just need be in decent shape to be able to adjust.
“It’s not too bad, and it only gets easier if you keep pedaling,” Lange said.
Not only are pedicabs good work for students but also for adults who need jobs to survive as well.
“I was definitely a victim of the economy,” Donovan said. “I wasn’t alone. But I saw the ad on Craigslist and thought, ‘hmm, I never thought of that.’”
Donovan lost his job, but was fortunately hired by SF Student Jobs Coalition pedicab company founder Keith Saggers.
Donovan said being a driver offers a sense of control that often people do not get in regular jobs.
“You’re your own boss, making your own decisions, trying to find rides,” Donovan said.
Golden Gate Pedicabs and the SF Student Jobs Coalition are both located in the city, though the former is more geared toward hiring students.
“The original idea was to give students some income by having them work driving pedicabs in the summer, but it evolved into a full-time job for a bunch of people who are no longer students,” Saggers said.
Saggers has kept the original name of the company despite the fact that most of his drivers are no longer current college students.
Saggers said drivers pay him rent each week for their pedicab and obtain an operating license while he pays for insurance and permits.
“They’re independent contractors, not employees,” Saggers said. “They come and go as they please and pay rent weekly.”