“After 7 years of serving Salt Lake City, Salt City Cycle Cab, LLC turned its last pedal. The effects of COVID-19 destroyed income streams and paralyzed fleet operations. Salt Lake was a fantastic starting point for the Cycle Cab company, and despite the closure of the largest pedicab company in the city, there are still several responsible, dedicated and resilient pedicab owners who remain in the city ready to serve. Best of luck to all the pedicab operators who continue to serve the downtown (Salt Lake City) community. Wishing success for all taking up the challenge to save the world one pedal stroke at a time.”
—Louis Gasper, founder of Salt City Cycle Cab, LLC
Salt City Cycle Cab, LLC was a tribe of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and contractors that lived up to their name. After a trip in a Salt City Cycle Cab, anyone will have salt lingering on their brow and butterflies flying circles around them. People like Louis Gasper, James Kurocik, and Brian Gomez make city loitering feel a lot less lame.
Graduating from horse-drawn carriages that used to line downtown Salt Lake, pedicabs emerged as a more humane and controlled way of getting city dwellers from here to there. The customized Pedal-Bikes (aka Rickshaws) that SCCC mechanics produced, came equipped with a glittering exterior, a glowing interior, a booming sound system, and a gritty 7-speed tricycle frame. With all of this, a pretty pedicab pilot was sure to leave trails of lambency behind any brave band of people willing to take a trip.
Salt City Cycle Cab, LLC (SCCC), founded in 2013 by Louis Gasper and Scott McFarlene, has always faced an uphill battle.
When asked about the history of the charged business, Louis Gasper spoke:
“Started out in my living room. Two cabs in the backyard. Partnered with Lithium Storage Inc., The Green Pig Pub, The Sun Trapp, Atlantic Café & Market, Twist Bar & Bistro, Tin Angel Restaurant at Eccles Theatre, Visit Salt Lake, The Utah Apartment Association (UAA), Outdoor Retailer (OR), Denver Pedal Hoppers, Trails Gentlemen’s Club, Button Down Nightclub, VISA, City Byrd Cafe. They all advertised with us on real grass roots contracts that were all fulfilled. We jammed a lot; played a lot of music.”
Not many originations made it easy for this grassroots transportation company to survive. SCCC was ousted from their original shop by the Redevelopment Agency (RDA). “Had bad relations with the Utah Apartment Association (UAA),” Gasper stated.
The company eventually moved into a shop behind Roxy’s Beauty Salon. Roxy’s provided great storage, power, and love to the cab company. Rumor has it the late night salon next door may have danced to the Pedicabbers’ “jamming”.
Even Roxy’s garage became unaffordable after COVID-19 regulations restricted businesses and events, giving Gasper a few reasons to pull the plug:
“Over time the tax rates in Utah have only gone up. In Las Vegas I have a property with a glass front and I can store up to 20 bikes. The cost in Las Vegas is less than $1,700/mo. Half of SLC shop space. The Utah Labor Commission almost put me out of business because they called my riders employees, which I still hotly dispute.”
The Utah Tax Commission imposed fines costing $6,700 for a rider not having a Worker’s Compensation Waiver. This is a document stating that the contractor is waiving their rights to Worker’s Compensation from the company.
During the early stages of the company, Gasper ventured to Park City to score some contracts. Despite being ruffians at heart, Gasper and James Kurocik took the cabs up to PC dressed in business formal. The contacts that he met with wanted to sample the pedicabs, and asked Gasper and Kurocik to give them a jovial joy ride up the Park City stretch. Louis agreed.
“So, a little 110-pound lady and her 140-pound date hopped in the back of my cab,” laughed Kurocik, “and the two BIG contacts hopped in Gasper’s cab, pushing his pulling weight past 400 pounds.”
The two of them cycled up the hill, but while Kurocik was silently swimming upstream, Gasper was leaving his own stream of sweat and spit behind. When the ride was over, the pleased passengers hopped out and decided to give Gasper a hard handshake. He shook their hand stoically with puffed cheeks and a wide smile like a true soldier. “As soon as they were gone, Gasper bent behind his truck and poured the contents of his lunch that week on the ground,” Kurocik reminisced.
SCCC cabs never rode Park City again. “Park City can’t work unless they let us have 5k watt motors, something I’d have to charge $50 a ride uphill to rationalize the battery and material investment,” Louis explained.
SCCC riders were diverse and each had their own unique riding and lifestyle. Some were welders, others were photographers, servers, massage therapists, engineers, musicians, technicians, yogis, typists, artists, adventurers, bikers, students, mechanics, and some were just kids. Age, background, profession, and lifestyles did not matter to this group of friends. All that did was get out there, giving people a good time, and making them some money.
The hoard of hilarious hounds hunted and gathered all of the hottest, haughtiest, and naughtiest people around town. Big ballers would sometimes pay $100 for a trip up the block just to gaze upon the pearly whites that shine through the luscious lips and baggy beard of SCCC rider, community welder, full-time beer lord, and part-time Santa Claus, James Kurocik.
A flock of famished riders was always gulling outside of Jazz games, waiting for some bread to be tossed their way. “Jazz arena has my everlasting thanks. They are there for us every year. They always improved the property and they let us ride on the grounds. Same goes for Visit Salt Lake.”
There are also told and untold stories of heroic pedicabbers delivering the lost dame or drunk to their desired destination in the middle of a cold night for little or no cost. Virtue was more important to SCCC than a passenger’s societal value. To sum it up this group of gallant goonies and chivalrous shills gave ten-times their weight in spiritual wealth to our Salty City.
COVID-19 regulations, Utah tax rates, and Utah rental cost, have forced SCCC to disband. The Salt Lake Valley lost a special company with Salt City Cycle Cab. They are a healthy design for the future of downtown Salt Lake City transportation. The cabs were efficient at moving large groups of people around the University of Utah and downtown Salt Lake City without any pollution. The friendships and relationships that the rides fostered were powerful. Music coming from the cabs got people animated. Frankly, tourism in Salt Lake City will not be as memorable without the scene that Salt City Cycle Cabs provided.
Bryan Gamez, a Pedicab business owner and former contractor, mechanic, and close friend to SCCC said, “As one of the last few remaining pedicab business owners(during the pandemic), I feel eternally grateful for the continual support and our community that keeps on giving. Soon the door of opportunity will open again and we will rise like Phoenixes from the ashes.”
As life returns to normal and people are allowed to gather once again, the pedicab scene could return. If you love pedicabs and want to help think about all of the systems that forced this company out of the Salt Lake City market, there is a lot we can all do to make pedicabbing possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about SCCC, or want to contact people that are involved, cruise over to their website and reach out!
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