Is Bloomington anti-business?

July 7, 2008
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Bloomington has a reputation as one of the toughest places in the state to do business.

Its regulations are thickets, its bureaucrats nit-pickers, its public officials aloof. At least thatâ??s how many businesspeople view the city.

The latest controversy pits the city against a man who wants to start a rickshaw service. Chris Waggoner wants to hire a few workers to pedal people around downtown Bloomington. Waggoner likes Scottish pedicabs, and he thinks people here would, too.

But the city has handed the matter to its attorney to see if the city would open itself to liability.

On the one hand, the cityâ??s caution seems prudent; on the other hand, it has a tinge of overreach.

What do you think?
  • Maybe they are worried that they will pick up drunk people and those people could then become erratic and cause the pedicab individual to lose control and possibly cause damage.

    I would totally use it though. Great idea and would be great for families that come in to town where it is harder for them to walk around downtown as easily, esp, up and down the hills and side streets (grandmas visiting grandkids at IU, disabled, etc.)
  • They are anti everything down there. Like I don't know, maybe I-69. It is a awesome place down there. But liberal whack jobs run the government.
  • there are also conservative wack jobs... oh wait... if I talk bad about President Bush, I am not Patriotic. Never mind... I will retract my comment before I get thrown in jail for talking bad about the president.
  • Agree with Todd. Bloomington is like a hippie commune in the state of Indiana. It's all regulation and big government.

    To Todd's comment, not sure why you brought up Bush, but if the socialists in Bloomington had their way people would be thrown in jail for talking bad about minorities or other protected groups.
  • I love Bloomington, but I live in Indianapolis. This is a prime example of why. Talk about the most conflicted city on the planet. Green, hippie, whatever you want to call it, and they are pushing back on a bicycle powered taxi??? Chalk this one up as another example of the ingrained govt in Bloomington missing the big picture. Beautiful place, but as any property owner or small businessperson there can attest to, very much ready for a change in the local powers that be!
  • Haha, that's a really good point John!
  • To E101: so your saying that we should all bash minority and other protected groups and get away with it. Isn't that why they are proteted. No one should be talking bad about anyone group or segment of the population.

    These rules and regulations have made Bloomington what it is today. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a change, which a change is needed down there, but regulations have their purpose when they are thoughtfully though out. One example being paying for trash instead of recycling, something the rest of the state should take note of, especially indianapolis. Probabaly one of the worst medium sized cities in terms of recycling.
  • Mike: No, I'm not saying we should bash them, far from it. I'm saying that an individual has the right to do it. More of the line: I may not agree with what you say but I will defend with my life your right to say it. I was just making a comparison to the poster insinuating that liberals would be persecuted by conservatives for questioning Bush and would wind up in jail.

    And to your point about recycling. Yes let's have the government get involved and hole a gun to your head and demand that you recycle or forcibly pay a fine. Now that's freedom!
  • That should be hold...
  • I'd like to know where Waggoner gets his statistic that there have only been five accidents involving rickshaws in the last 20 years? I happen to know of more than that in the last one year alone!

    As a matter of fact, as I sit here typing this, I am working through pain in my right arm from a broken clavicle that has yet to fully heal after I was thrown from a rickshaw this past New Year's (2008) in Ft Lauderdale, FL.

    And while I'd like to express a grimacing look of disgust on my face at Waggoner's un-researched statistics, I can't: my face is still paralyzed on the right side from the skull fracture and brain injury I sustained in that same accident.

    Allow me to restate that in full:

    I was almost killed on New Year's Eve when a pedicab I was riding in Ft Lauderdale was struck by a car, and I was sent flying, head first, into a bridge. I suffered a broken clavicle, broken pelvis, and the right side of my face is still paralyzed from the skull fracture/head injury. I have been unable to work since the accident, still can't hear in my rt. ear (or smile, or blink my eye, or talk properly), and I did not get a dime from the pedicab company, the city of Ft Lauderdale, or any insurance company.

    The friend I was traveling with had her knee blown out, and she had to have it rebuilt with plates. She is just now starting to get around without a cane or crutches.

    As a graduate of Indiana University (two degrees, 1997, Phi Beta Kappa), and a former resident of Bloomington, I am happy to see the city is putting careful thought into their decision on whether or not to regulate these vehicles. Unfortunately, the city officials in Lauderdale were not so wise. Not only did they not have regulations in place to insure the safety of passengers opting for this mode of transportation, they let a pedicab business owner secure city permits without having proper insurance. (That pedicab company had a bogus insurance policy, which the city never verified. That pedicab owner, Kevin Green, has now had his permits revoked. Meanwhile, I am still trying to sue the city for its negligence.)

    I say, if rickshaws are going to be allowed to operate, there need to be special operator licensing and maintenance regulations in place, the owners MUST carry insurance (if Waggoner does, that's great), and the cities where they operate need to have policies in place that restrict where these vehicles can travel.

    For more on my accident, please visit:

    For more on what's been happening in New York City as a result of my New Year's Eve accident (because, unlike Ft Lauderdale, NYC is paying attention), including changes being brought about there by Peter Meitzler, the founding board member of the New York City Pedicab Operators Association (NYCPOA), please visit:

    Yes, this is an alternative, green mode of transportation, but unless regulated properly, the cons outweigh the pros. I hope that Bloomington city officials take note of this.

    ~Julie Perry
  • I wonder why Bloomington is always rated one of the top cities to live in for its size? hmmm....
  • To E 101 and other objectors:

    Let Bloomington be Bloomington, and let the city rise or fall on its own with all their regulations. They don't seem to have a problem luring people seeking a beautiful, well-educated community with a wealth of recreational and cultural opportunities. No doubt those Best Places to Live surveys are left-wing skewed as well, right? Funny, though, most people would scarcely consider those great patriots and anti-socialists in Martinsville to have cultivated a fine place to live; I wonder why that is? Could it be that Bloomington's anti-hate crime laws are protected its more diverse citizens from the Martinsville crowd?

    Indiana could certainly benefit from a few more Bloomingtons.
  • The funny part about the timing of this article is the news story that ran here in Indy last night/this morning about the Monroe County sheriff that just started using a Prius. Can't remember which channel mentioned it in their story (I think it might have been FOX), but they pointed out that Bloomington is a community with quite a few bicylists and even used 2 different quick shots of different cyclists making their way around town...

    We had a pedicab company up here in Indy a few years ago that stopped operating after awhile - not sure if it was lack of business or what...
  • Sassafras:

    First I have fixed part of your post to be more accurate:

    Could it be that Bloomington’s thought crime laws...

    First of all Bloomington isn't luring anyone there (-.1% population growth 2000-2006). Also I wouldn't call it a particularly beautiful place. For a college town it's nice, but to actually live and work there? Not so much. Also, not really sure why you would think that anyone here would be promoting Martinsville's way of life.

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