By: Ryan Cox
It's near triple digits in the hot Indio sun and there's a brown dust haze filling the sky from the continuous foot traffic. You pass your first round of security, weak from exhaustion and dehydration when out in the distance you catch glimpse of a group of men in blue. Are they cops? Nope. Superheroes? Sorta. These are Coachella's pedicab drivers and they're waiting to taking you to your next destination on their man-powered chariots.
Meet Christian Bowers, a 37-year old pedicab driver from Scottsdale who's been in the business for about a year. I find him with the rest of his fellow drivers next to the security check-point adjacent to the campgrounds. He's got a pair of 70's style glasses covering half his face while a well-groomed mutton chop covers the other. Tattoos adorn his legs, and he's laughing and smiling while conversing with his colleagues.
Trying to coerce some juicy details about the underbelly of pedicab rides at Coachella, he assured me that it's pretty uneventful with the occasional drunk person or misunderstandings. Nothing too crazy. But when I asked him about some of his other experiences, that was a whole other story.
OC Weekly (Ryan Cox): Has anyone ever had sex in a pedicab?
Christian Bowers: I don't know anything about that [laughs]. Nothing like that at Coachella, but in the past, I've witnessed some partial things.
Has anyone ever tried to stiff you for a ride?
Bowers: I was actually stiffed once. Four people got into a cab and each person thought that the other person had paid when they got to the club. There have been misunderstandings with amounts and payments and such where people only paid me 1/3 or ¼ of what they were supposed to. I've even had someone only pay me $2 after I had taken them miles and miles away.
What's the craziest think you've seen a pedicab driver do to someone?
Well, where I come from in Scottsdale, a lot of the pedicab drivers have wars with taxi cab drivers. They'll rip off taxi cab mirrors, they'll jump on their cars, they'll do all kinds of shit. I don't condone any of this- it just makes the job more dangerous for us.
What do the cab drivers do?
I've seen drivers purposely assault pedicab drivers by hitting them with their cars, which is assault with a vehicle. We called the police, we had witnesses, but Scottsdale police did fucking nothing. The driver hits his horn and then drives right into the bike knocking the guy off of it. Literally nothing happens for that. If that was a regular pedestrian on a bike and a taxi cab did that, there would have been problems. But for some reason or another, we get such bullshit because we are on a bike and people get it in their heads that it's just a bike.
What's the zaniest story you've heard from another pedicab driver?
This guy Cobra was driving in Scottsdale one night and he blew a stop sign going over to a drive-thru to get a burrito. The cop pulled him over and asked if he was the pedicab that ran through the stop sign a few minutes ago. Cobra immediately asked if the cop had anything else better to do and if there were worse people he could be harassing instead of trying to give him a ticket. At that same moment, a car full of people drove by screaming at the cop to go and fight some real crime. The driver of that car wasn't looking and slammed into a stopped car in front of him. The driver and the passenger were ejected through the windshield onto the pavement. Cobra looked at the officer and said, "Do you see what I mean?" At that point, the cop said one of those one-liners like, "I guess this is your lucky day."