For Jaguars fans, there was a familiar face at Sunday’s game. Dave Rodgers and his Jax Bike Taxi service started operating at the stadium last October and returned this year.
All day on game day, Rodgers picks up fans who pay just a donation and pedals them as close as possible to the stadium. But, there are limits. A City ordinance prevents Rodgers from taking fares right up to the gates of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
“We get stopped at Georgia Street,” said Rodgers. “I have to drop my clients off about a block away from the stadium.”
Despite being licensed through the City, Rodgers and his bike taxis are not allowed to go into the parking lots or up to the entrance of the stadium.
“The stadium is still City property,” said Rodgers. “Cars and ticket scalpers can go into the lots and the front entrance of the stadium.”
This isn’t the first time that Jax Bike Taxi has been told no. The original target-market was Jacksonville Beach, according to Rodgers. The police said that there would be no problem so long as he had a permit. However, Rodgers was denied a permit because his service also violated a Jacksonville Beach ordinance.
“They said that the taxis didn’t fit in the bike lanes and didn’t have head lights or tail lights and there was a problem with liability,” said Rodgers.
However, since that denial Rodgers insists that all of those issues have been addressed.
“They also said that I was denied a permit because of a City ordinance (sections 33-16 and 33-17, which state that the vehicles for hire must be motorized, like a van or taxicab),” said Rodgers. “But we aren’t for hire (because donations are accepted rather than being hired with a set price) and should be classified as something else.”
The problem is not so much an inconvenience for Rodgers as it is for his elderly clientele.
“Elderly customers call and set up pickup times with me,” said Rodgers. “But I can’t take them all the way to the stadium. For a younger person, it’s more of an inconvenience. But it’s a problem for an elderly person.”
SMG, the company that manages the stadium, was “scratching their heads” as General Manager Bob Downy put it when asked about the situation.
“The problem is that there’s a lot of things crunched together,” said Downy, who admitted that he was not familiar with the issue. “It’s worth a discussion.”
Downy added that if there was a concern from police, it probably had something to do with traffic and other related dangers.
“I’m not sure we’re set up for (the bike taxis),” said Downy. “I’m not opposed to (the bike taxis).”
For Rodgers, the Arena, Convention Center and Stadium are the three main places to find the Jax Bike Taxi service. However, he is working with the managers of St. John’s Town Center to start serving that area as early as next week.
“We’re the only (bike taxi) company that’s exclusively in Jacksonville,” said Rodgers.