Pedal power for Suffolk streets

IT may be in the east, but Felixstowe has never been especially exotic.But this summer it will have more than a passing resemblance to the Asian continent when its transport system has a new addition with an eastern flavour.

IT may be in the east, but Felixstowe has never been especially exotic.

But this summer it will have more than a passing resemblance to the Asian continent when its transport system has a new addition with an eastern flavour.

For riding in a rickshaw will be an attraction at the resort from next month when businessman Michael Hearn begins a new service which he hopes will provide a big boost to tourism.

People will be able to ride in style up and down the seafront or around the town thanks to pedal power with the rickshaw driver taking the strain in a modern aerospace-designed vehicle.


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But Mr Hearn – who will also be running rickshaw services at Woodbridge and Aldeburgh – says passengers will not have to worry about the thrills and spills of Bent Hill and South Hill . . . as he has found gentler routes.

"There are a couple of really nasty hills on the seafront at Felixstowe – I had a real nightmare about them and woke up in a cold sweat!" he said.

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"But I have walked the town inside and out and now found two very gentle routes to get between the seafront and shops. I have forbidden the drivers to use the other hills!"

Mr Hearn, of Norman Close, Woodbridge, normally works as a business consultant but said his new venture Rickshaw Tripping was "a chance to have some fun in life".

He said: "I wobble between exciting and gone mad. I have those times when I wake up in the wee small hours and think 'What have you done?'

"But everyone has been very positive and supportive. I think it will be unique for this area – they have them in London, but it will be very different for Suffolk."

He is buying seven rickshaws – two for each town with one spare – and has recruited eight drivers after advertising for physically fit people who enjoy working outside and are very sociable.

He has been granted a modified version of the hackney carriage licence for the rickshaws, which can carry up to three people.

"We are not in competition with taxis because our service will be different to theirs," he said.

The rickshaws will do trips between the seafront and shops, along the seafront or down to Landguard Fort.

But they can also be hired for special occasions, or for a 90-minute guided tour of the resort, or for a half-day or full-day customised treat.

A family from London had already booked a gentle tour of Woodbridge, with morning coffee in a bar, lunch and sight-seeing at Sutton Hoo, and then strawberries and champagne to finish off. Leiston High School will be using the rickshaws for their leavers' proms transport.

He is also talking to Ipswich council about using the vehicles for a "nightclub run" to take people between venues.

Doreen Savage, chairman of Felixstowe regeneration group, said: "I think it's a great idea and it will really add to our tourist attractions."

WEBLINK: www.rickshawtripping.co.uk

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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