Member Profile: A Conversation with SFBC's Keith Saggers By Gernot Huber

SFBC member Keith Saggers offers tourists and commuters a unique ride in his pedicab. Photo by Gernot Huber
Name: Keith Saggers
Age: 55
Occupation: Pedicab owner/operator
Neighborhood: North Beach
Member since: 1997

How many years have you operated a pedicab? 12 years.

Why'd you join the SFBC? To help make improvements for bicyclists in San Francisco, including pedicabs.

How do you get around when you're not working? I don't ride my bike much for transportation since I ride at work. I take the bus and use the bicycle for leisure.

Your recreational bike, what kind of bike is it? I have to look it up. I won it at a Bicycle Coalition party in a raffle. The only thing I've ever won in my life. What's that bike called... It's a Globe, by Specialized. A comfortable ride.

How long have you been cycling? All your life? Yeah. Yeah, sure. My first job out of school I commuted to by bicycle, in London.

So you are from London originally? Yes. How does biking in SF compare to London? Well, we used to have bike lanes where I commuted along the highway.

How did you get into becoming a pedicab operator? I heard about it when I first came to America and stayed in a hostel in New York City. Some people there told me about it and I thought it sounded interesting. So I went to San Francisco and started doing it.

What bicycle-related projects are you involved in now? Transit First Market Street, Howard Street bike lanes, Polk Street bike lanes, attending and speaking at meetings at City Hall.

Now that the Valencia bike lanes have been made permanent, what are the next few key steps for improving SF's transportation system and livability? Oh well, there's more than a few. Polk Street will come up for finalization. We would like to make improvements in the Broadway tunnel. There is a narrow foot path on either side. On the west-bound side we'd like the Fire Department to move their hydrants, which you bump into when you're riding along the sidewalk, and make the slightly uphill westbound side for bicycles and put pedestrians on the other side. Going east you can use the roadway, as it's downhill. I'd also like to see improvements at Fisherman's Wharf. At the moment, Jefferson Street is one-way, and visitors who have rented bikes and are coming back must work their way against traffic up Jefferson Street. It's very unsafe. And, of course, there's Market Street and Howard Street.

What do you think will encourage people to cycle more often? Bike lanes.

Anything else you want to add? As a pedicabber or a cyclist? As a pedicabber, kids seem to like us best, because they have short legs, and know a good thing when they see it. Do you want a bit of data on pedicabs?

Sure! The city in the world with the most pedicabs is Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It has thousands. In the U.S., San Diego has hundreds. Cities where pedicabs have been introduced in the last ten years or so include Dublin, New York, London, and Paris. It's a great way to see a city.

How much does a pedicab weigh? When it's empty? About 200 pounds. Then I'm 200 pounds, and the passengers are another 450 pounds, so you are getting up towards a thousand, you know.

So how do you get up the hills? It's got a very low gearing system, a two chain system, with a differential, and hydraulic brakes.

Anything else? I'd just like to say that with the current progressive Board of Supervisors, San Francisco can look forward to improvements to the bike lane network at long last.