PedalPub driver responds to the haters [INTERVIEW]
Summers is sick of people hating on PedalPubs, and most of the vitriol is unjustified, she says.
Melissa Summers works full-time for Nice Ride, but she's a five-year veteran PedalPub driver. In fact, she put her son through college with the money she made captaining the leg-powered, booze-fueled vessels roughly 30 hours a week from 2008 through last fall.
Summers took this season off, but says she's considering returning next year. She's somewhat reluctant, however, because last season in particular, she noticed a proliferation of PedalPub haters that made her driving gig difficult for no good reason, at least in her opinion.
"By the end of the year last year things were getting kinda dicey with threats and general unpleasantness," Summers said. "We had a PedalPub attacked downtown and we had people who were planning to board the PedalPub, we had rocks thrown at us, and the driver is out there alone."
"It didn't happen very often but when it did it was pretty scary, so I just decided it wasn't worth it," she continued. "What I can't figure out is you don't see people hating on party buses and for God's sake, those are like the most obnoxious things in the universe."
Summers pointed out that all PedalPub riders have to sign an agreement stipulating that they'll "behave and get tossed if they behave badly." It's no idle threat -- she's booted people off herself, she says. On the other hand, she says party bus riders aren't subject to the same agreement.
"Party bus riders don't sign anything that says, 'I'm not going to act like an asshole,'" Summer said. "I'm not saying there haven't been idiots [on the PedalPub] -- trust me, there have -- but it's a very small percentage of the groups that have jerks on it."
Furthermore, Summers says all Pedal Pub drivers are expected to have hospitality experience and are trained in how to handle unruly passengers before handling their first real trips.
Regarding service-industry allegations that pedal pubbers use bar bathrooms and order copious waters without tipping, Summer said they're "completely overblown."
"I've got friends who work in bars in Minneapolis, and the majority are happy to have our business," she said. "If they said they didn't want us to stop, we wouldn't go there."
Asked about specific incidents that made her uncomfortable, Summers said the driver of a certain evil-looking ice cream truck in Northeast was "a major hater."
"He would follow us up the street, come by real slow, and say, 'Fuck the Pedal Pub!'" she said, adding that another man in Northeast was known to "throw beer cans at us as we went by." Yet another bike-riding hater was known to "hit passengers as he went by on his bike." (His blows must've been somewhat playful -- Summers said she never had to contact police about an incident that happened on the PedalPub during her half-decade driving.)
Of course, Summers said most pedestrians, bikers, and drivers she encountered while on the job had no beef. Many waved and snapped pictures. But as exaggerated or downright false anti-PedalPub stories proliferated (for instance, Summers says bus riders complaining about getting stuck behind a pedal pub on Nicollet Mall during rush hour are making things up, as pedal pubs aren't allowed on Nicollet during that time of day) and the "I hate the Pedal Pub" Facebook group grew in popularity, she decided to retire from driving... for now, at least.
"By the end of last year with 'I hate the Pedal Pub,' it was scary. People were making specific plans to make my life miserable," Summers said. "It made you kind of nervous being outside a bar and watching people by yourself."
-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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