By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Mar 17, 2010 at 5:31 AM
If you find yourself out and about this St. Patrick's Day having hit the green beer a little too hard, there are a number of safe ways to transport yourself to a hearty, sobering meal, to your bed -- or to the next bar, should you get your second wind.

Taxi cabs abound on Water Street, the Milwaukee County Transit System offers free rides after 6 p.m. and a third option, Cream City Rickshaw, adds even more green to your holiday.

As Milwaukee's full-service pedicab company, Cream City Rickshaw is an eco-friendly way to get around town and it's a fun alternative to fighting for a parking spot. Founder Andrew Otis calls it "transportainment.

"It's a nice marriage of getting around the city and having fun doing it," he says.

And it's as inexpensive as you want it to be. Rather than implementing flat fees for rides, Otis offers the "trips for tips" policy in which passengers negotiate a charge with their drivers and pay them accordingly in tips.

Otis founded the company in early 2009 and by August had a 15-rickshaw fleet out on the streets of Milwaukee. He says he keeps his drivers within the city's main entertainment districts, which limits his services to Downtown, the East Side, Riverwest and Bay View. During the summer months, he plans to be the hot new way to way to get to Milwaukee's many street and lakefront festivals.

"I'm really excited about Summerfest. We'll be carpooling people from the parking lots to the main entrance and then to the bars after the shows."

Otis says he was inspired to start a pedicab service in Milwaukee after seeing them in other cities, including New York, Portland and Austin. The geographic difference between Milwaukee and Austin, however, means Cream City faces a bit more of a challenge when it comes to battling the Midwestern elements.

Otis doesn't pretend that he and his drivers will tough it out next winter. He plans to provide three-season service and is equipped with all-weather canopies and warm blankets for rainy days and cool nights.

The rickshaw crew hit the streets for the first time this year at the St. Patrick's Day parade on March 13 and Otis says he's already had a positive response from Milwaukeeans who are willing to trade car keys for a little fresh air.

"Milwaukee's not a metropolitan city; we don't have people in the streets all day and night long. But I knew I was taking a risk here. By no means do I think everyone's going to use the service every day of the week. I think in the beginning it'll primarily be a weekend thing."

Cream City Rickshaw does, however, run six days a week -- it's closed Mondays -- from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m.

For now, it's predominantly a hailing service, much like traditional taxi cabs, but it also offers private services. Groups can contact the company to request private rentals for anything from weddings to bachelor parties to pub crawls to simple tours of the city.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”