Cary, NC — It’s no secret that Downtown Cary is in the middle of a renaissance – the Academy Streetscape Project is underway, and new business and developments keep popping up. The newest to this mix is a man named Rick Kelley, who is bringing his own spin to this energy surge – a hip, new transportation alternative that will solely serve Downtown Cary.
Rick Kelley, who also likes to be called “Ricky Rickshaw,” first entered the rickshaw business when he moved to North Carolina from Maine five years ago. After living in such a small state and working in the corporate sales world for more than 20 years, he appreciated the congestion and the energy he saw in this area while visiting his cousin in Cary one weekend.
“I just fell in love with the climate, the atmosphere and the nice way of life,” he told me. “There are so many people here, and there’s so much to do.”
Soon after Ricky settled into a house in Holly Springs, he stumbled upon the entrepreneurs who started Crank Arm, a popular brewery and rickshaw company in Downtown Raleigh. “I’ve done triathlons in the past, and I’ve been riding my bike since I was a little kid,” he told me. “I was new to the area and looking for work, and driving rickshaws sounded like the perfect fit.”
The Rickshaw Lifestyle
Ricky enjoyed working with rickshaws so much that he bought an extra bike from Crank Arm and began offering his own rickshaw rides around his home in Holly Springs. “That model, and the one I’ve brought here to Cary, is slightly different than the one they used in Downtown Raleigh,” he told me. “Obviously, the nightlife scene is different here than it is in Raleigh.”
In Raleigh, Ricky’s rickshaw shifts mainly consisted of weekends and evenings. He’d often start giving rides at 6 pm and continue until 2 or 3 am the next morning. “I’d give rides to a lot of college kids, and we’d race from bar to bar,” he told me.
“It’s a physically-demanding job, but getting to meet so many people is worth it. It’s 100% a passion for me. You’ve just got to live it, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Ricky’s Rickshaws in Cary
Ricky recently moved to Cary, and he’s brought with him the rickshaw business model he used in Holly Springs to start serving people who live, work and play in Downtown Cary. Obviously, rickshaw service will work a little differently here in Cary than it did in Raleigh.
My model [for Cary] is more community-driven. Per parents’ requests, I can take kids to school on their birthdays or to reward them for good grades and sportsmanship. I’ll offer historic tours of downtown and lighted tours of neighborhoods to show how many of them connect to greenways and other neighborhoods. I’ll be out and ready to give rides at all the big festivals and events, but people can also call me ahead of time, and I can take them from point-to-point in Downtown Cary.
Ricky will even decorate his rickshaw like a sleigh for this weekend’s Heart of the Holidays celebration in Downtown Cary (December 5, 2015) to offer rides to the festival-goers.
Above all, Ricky wants to form close relationships with the community and businesses in Downtown Cary. “I want to work with the Cary Players and offer audience members rides to and from the shows and to downtown restaurants, and I’d like to give rickshaw tours of the CVA art sculptures,” he told me. He explained that the rickshaw can help with marketing, too.
“This is a fun transportation and entertainment vehicle, but small businesses can also get exposure by advertising on the rickshaw or giving me flyers to hand out to riders.”
Take a Rickshaw Ride
To ensure riders’ safety and route familiarity, Ricky only offers his rickshaw service in and around Downtown Cary (within the Maynard Loop). To reach a destination via rickshaw, or to simply try a joyride, call Ricky’s Rickshaws at 919-257-8122.
Rickshaw tours run on tips – a $20 minimum is the suggested tip for each 40 minute ride.
Story and photos by Jessica Patrick.
CaryCitizen is sponsored in-part by the Heart of Cary Association.