Ricky Kelley blames his parents for his unique career choice.
“They wanted a doctor or a lawyer,” he jokes. “But they named me Rick, so I became a rickshaw driver.”
Kelley started driving a rickshaw – a vehicle similar to a three-wheeled bicycle with passenger seats behind the driver – when he moved to the Triangle from Maine five years ago.
After logging 26 years in corporate America, he signed on with Crank Arm Rickshaw in Raleigh, working mostly late nights with the downtown bar crowd. When Crank Arm had an extra bike to sell, he decided to go off on his own.
Kelley relocated to Cary from Holly Springs last summer and brought Ricky’s Rickshaws with him.
“I decided Cary would be an even better market than Holly Springs,” he said. “I’m the very first rickshaw in Cary.”
His market is far different than when he drove in Raleigh.
“I do more things like taking kids to school for birthdays or as a reward for behavior,” he said. “I give greenway rides, historic tours and nighttime rides during the holidays.”
Kelley’s primary service area is inside the Maynard Loop, but he says he can travel anywhere.
“The great thing about Cary is the connectivity via the greenways,” he said.
For Kelley, his rickshaw is more than a job. He doesn’t own a car.
“This rickshaw is my primary mode of transportation,” he said. “I prefer to walk, bike or run. To me it’s not just a business, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a conscious choice and a healthier thing for me.
“Doing this has put me in the best shape of my life.”
Being fit is a job necessity. His rickshaw holds two adults and one child comfortably, but some riders have pushed the limit. He recalls one trip with three adult men whose combined weight was well over 600 pounds.
At 50, Kelley has set a goal to complete a full Iron Man competition in the next year.
Because he is often pedaling about town, Kelley says his rickshaw is prime real estate for local businesses wanting to advertise.
“From a marketing perspective, I go to the hardware store, to the grocery store, to shoot pool with my girlfriend,” he said. “I literally have met 5,000 people that I would not have met before.”
Kelley feels comfortable riding the roads in Cary.
“It’s more receptive because of what a wonderful biking community this is,” he said. “Cary is more bike friendly than other communities and the town has done a great job of promoting that.”
He says one of the first things he does in a new town is introduce himself to the police department and get involved in any bike safety programs.
“I’m very much about the community,” he said.
Ricky’s Rickshaws operates on a gratuity-only basis. Kelley suggests $30 for a half-hour ride. He is open to any kind of event, from weddings to birthday parties to festivals.
“I go out to Carter-Finley (Stadium) for all the home State games, and I go to the PNC Arena,” he said.
It takes him about 40 minutes to pedal from Cary to the PNC Arena.
“It’s not about the distance,” Kelley said. “It’s about how much fun you’re going to have. It’s about the experience.”
About Ricky’s Rickshaws
Contact: 919-816-6351, email@example.com