Donette Dunaway has had a great life on the Central Coast with her family. She had a desk job as a geologist, but it got to the point where it wasn't as fulfilling as it once was—she wanted change.
"So I was laying in bed one day wondering, 'What would I really love to do,'" Dunaway said.
The one thing that she really loves is biking. For Dunaway, it's the combination of being outdoors, being able to talk to others, and biking that got her thinking about how she could make her dream job. She came up with a pedal taxi service.
Soon after announcing her idea to her husband, Dunaway said she went to San Francisco for a Giants baseball game where she took her first ride in a pedicab.
"I said, 'We have to try this out,' so we got in and it was so much fun," she said. "That was it. I knew I had to bring these to SLO."
She talked to many of different people and did a lot of research before finally purchasing her cab with a pedal assist motor—which really helps when she goes uphill—and started providing services in 2017.
You might have already seen Dunaway with her bright yellow and blue SLOCo. Pedal Taxi giving people rides throughout the downtown area of SLO. She offers various services that include: a scheduled ride, a private tour through the city, and food delivery. If you really want to customize your trip with Dunaway, your sightseeing tour can include breweries, wine bars, or a creekside bike trail to Avila Beach. Whatever time and day works for your schedule, Dunaway is ready to pick you up and show you around. These tours can cost $20 to $30, but a typical ride can cost between $4 and $20.
"I love talking to people, hearing their stories, and turning them on to this style of travel," she said. "Almost every ride I hear people say how much fun they're having, and how can you not be happy when you hear people say that."
While this new business venture is more than Dunaway could have asked for, she's taking it a couple of steps further.
She's currently working with local vegetable delivery services and making some deliveries for them. Dunaway has designed a curtain for the back of her cab and a screen in the front to shade the vegetable boxes from the sun.
"I can wet these shades and have an evaporation cooling system to keep the vegetable boxes cool because their drivers have a hard time parking when they're going to deliver. So I thought, 'I can do it,'" she said.
Her second idea is reaching out to city leaders and proposing more pedicabs as part of a solution to a lack of parking—plus it will minimize traffic and reduce the city's carbon footprint.
"I've been talking to some of the city leaders and managers; they said, 'Get involved with the active transportation committee and the parking committee.' So I went to both of those and now I'm introducing the idea of potentially having a fleet of these—similar to the trolley, you can hop on and off wherever you want to go," she said.
Giving people rides and hearing how much people enjoy this type of transportation has really inspired Dunaway to look at any way that she can give back to her community with her pedicab.
"I drive around and see all this positive reinforcement, people giving me a thumbs up, people smiling, and waving; some people saying how taking a ride really gives them another perspective on the city," she said.
To book your ride or learn more about Dunaway's services, visit sloco-pedaltaxi.com.
The Pismo Coast Association of Realtors announced Nancy Allison with the Taylor Hoving Realty Group as Realtor of the Year for 2018-19. The association's Realtor of the Year is selected annually from among the nominees of more than 650 realtors in the area. Allison has been a successful realtor for 16 years and has served as a mentor to many new agents. Δ
Staff writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to firstname.lastname@example.org.