Rick Carter is bringing his pedal power to Forest Park. The owner and operator of Rickshaw Rick’s has a fleet of Pedicabs and a six-seat electric vehicle for conducting tours, transporting locals and insuring bar patrons a safe ride home.

For six years, Rick has been taking tourists to attractions in Oak Park. Now, he plans to provide the same service in Forest Park.

Rick grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, which he describes as, “The westernmost suburb of Chicago.” He attended Drake University, where most of his fellow students were from this area. He majored in theater and journalism; “So, naturally I’m riding a bike,” he said.

After graduating in 1983, Rick moved to Chicago, seeking a career onstage. Instead, he wound up using his breezy humor to conduct tours on double-deck busses, before landing a job at the Shedd Aquarium. After being laid off in 2005, Rick was watching a broadcast of the Olympics when he noticed a swarm of Pedicabs transporting fans to venues.

He bought a used Pedicab on eBay and later added five Chinese-made models. Operating on the premise that, “If it looks weird, people want to ride it,” Rick began pedaling his wares around the Oak Park Visitor’s Center and in the Frank Lloyd Wright district. He provides transportation from Earth Day to Halloween.

It’s a strenuous job; his lightest Pedicab weighs 200 pounds. But, the former football player and wrestler welcomes the exercise. It keeps him from “turning into a big bag of goo.” He thinks the trips are also healthy for his clients. “It’s super-relaxing,” Rick said.

I had my doubts about that – being a bit squeamish about traveling in a human-powered vehicle. Rick, however, reminded me, “I’m not working for the man. I am the man.” It turned out to be a tranquil way to take a tour. It was, in fact, relaxing and Rick was able to talk without any sign of exertion.

It was also reassuring that we got healthy respect from gas-powered vehicles. “They don’t know if I’m motorized, so they stay behind until I wave them past.”

Rick charges $15 per person for a half-hour ride, or $20 per rider for the electric taxi he rents. He envisions conducting history tours of Forest Park, taking visitors through our celebrated cemeteries, and partnering with restaurants and bars to give patrons a lift.

He’s well aware of a certain anti-Oak Park sentiment held by some Forest Parkers. Now that he lives here, though, he’s hoping our community will support his eco-friendly business. Rick admits he’s seen more than a few businesses go under. “Sometimes I feel like a rowboat circling ships that have gone down.”

Staycationers and tourists alike can contact Rick at 773 771 3922. If you’d like to do the pedaling yourself, or fear turning into a big bag of goo, Rick also provides guided bike tours.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.