By Jesse Laufer
Taylor Mason runs through eight pairs of shoes every summer.
The 27-year-old builds, runs, and leases rickshaws that operate throughout Victoria during the tourism season and his company, Rickshaw Runners, is the only one in town.
Rickshaws — a man-operated chariot that can carry two to four passengers — cost about $10,000, but Mason builds them himself in his mom’s garage for a third of the price.
His relationship with rickshaws began during a trip to Halifax, a city that supports multiple rickshaw companies through tourism and taxi-travel.
In 2009 Mason had a friend in Victoria looking for summer work. He remembered rickshaws rolling along the street in Halifax, and suggested his friend give it a shot. Mason’s friend did okay, but Mason thought he could do better.
In 2010 he got to cutting, assembling, and welding together his first rickshaw. That summer Mason got to work on his tan, strength, cardio, and guide skills, all while bringing in three times more money than he would have made working a full-time minimum wage job.
After his first summer, he kept his rickshaws in storage and would run them whenever he found himself in Victoria. He moved to Victoria permanently last year.
“I had to make a decision about whether to stay in Winnipeg long-term, and I didn’t want to. It’s Winnipeg and we’re in Victoria. Most people understand that decision,” he said.
This year he doubled the size of his business to four rickshaws — all still homemade — and now needs to find storage space for them outside of his home.
Each of his rickshaws requires licenses with both the City of Victoria and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
While running, rickshaws must stay on the road and follow the same laws as bicycles.
Rickshaw Runners get going in full swing in early May, though with this year’s weather Mason has been out since April.
During peak season, a single rickshaw shift can go from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. at night. Finding people who are capable of pulling in the long shifts can be difficult. Mason runs one rickshaw himself, but the other three are leased.
“It is running almost a marathon a day,” admitted Mason.
“Lots of times I’ll get two guys to lease one rickshaw. But I’m not built like a runner and I’m able to do it. What’s going to make you successful as a rickshaw runner is all the things you do when you’re not working.
The rickshaw season will be running at full speed over the next few weeks.
For more information call 250-680-8828.