Pedicab Travels: Inauguration Day, 2013

Movemint took a road trip to Washington, D.C. in 2013 to pedicab President Obama’s presidential inauguration.

The first group of approximately 16, ironically comprised entirely of procrastinators who waited until the last minute before committing to travel, left early in the morning on Thursday, January 17th.  The second group of 3, who agitated for weeks for a road trip, left much later in the afternoon.  The second group had someone in their party they needed to retrieve in Wynne, Arkansas, and they traveled from there to D.C.

We weren’t the only Texans en route to D.C.  Friends of ours were trekking cross-country as well.  They had left before either Movemint group on the same day, and informed us of the terrible snowstorm blowing across Virginia into Tennessee.  The first group had to follow their directions and reroute to Kentucky and West Virginia, whereas the second group drove on unimpeded through the remains of the snowstorm.

Whichever Movemint group arrived in D.C. first was to head to the National Park Service office and retrieve our pedicab permits.  (You have to have one to legally operate on the Mall.)  The bureaucrat there praised our initiative, stating that we were the only out-of-town pedicab company to get appropriately licensed to work in D.C. for the inauguration.  That felt good.

The first group arrived first, but barely before the second.  Both united at a below-ground parking garage a few blocks north of the Mall.  It was an ideal location for the impromptu shop.  The options after unloading the pedicabs were to either go work and familiarize oneself with the city, or to go eat and then to bed.  The groups had organized separate lodging arrangements.

(Author’s note: I hadn’t been to D.C. since I was a teenager, but I “knew” the grid system.  I didn’t remember the locations of all the monuments, so I picked up some tourist brochures to study.)

Most inaugurations are held January 20th.  However, January 20th in 2013 was both a Sunday and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  The inauguration was postponed until January 21st.

January 20th so much fun.  Most Movemint riders hadn’t been to D.C. before, so they got to tour the city along with tourists.  Some 800,000 people were in D.C. to experience the inauguration, and you could see their number among the crowds on Sunday, January 20th.  Law enforcement agents began closing road access later that evening, but only to motor vehicles.  We relished our privilege.  D.C.’s civil leadership was renowned for its goodness to pedicabs during the 2009 inauguration, and the goodwill carried over to 2013.

The crowds arrived early on Monday, January 21st.

 

Oh, the places you’ll go!

 

(Author’s note: I have almost no recollection of the entire day.  I think the weather was in the mid-30s throughout the day, cloudy but without sprinkles, and thanks to the strong winds, much colder that night.  I think most of our shifts began around 8 AM and that most continued until at least midnight.  I only have three distinct memories: witnessing a Metro Police cruiser accidentally crash into a truck, hustling through Chinatown with coworkers to find a new area to work, and walking home at some point in the evening past a National Guard checkpoint.  That’s all, folks.)

About Andrew Lyon