Editor’s Notebook: Missing Su Dragon Yu

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I remember a warm summer evening in 2015, when a journalist friend and I toured the wide streets of Salt Lake City snug in the back seat of a pedicab, marveling at the raw number of bridal parties we saw gaggling outside the bars. When the kid pedaling the bike, an impossibly wholesome hipster with great hair and a fine swipe of beard, told me he worked for tips, I dropped 10 bucks in his cup and had him cruise around a bit while we finished our cigarettes.

And when I remember that night, it’s obligatory that I also think of Su Dragon Yu, downtown Greensboro’s first pedicab.

It must have been 2006 when I first encountered Su Dragon Yu, back before downtown had filled in to the extent it has today. She was a one-woman operation, pledging her services on weekend nights to ferry people from the Rhinoceros Club on Green Street around to the new ballpark or the Next Door Tavern and, occasionally, a jaunt to the Flatiron.

Her actual name escapes me — the story I wrote about her has been scrubbed from the internet — but I remember the elaborate red dragon she had painted on the back of the yellow cab, and I remember thinking that, as a city, we had arrived.

Of course, we had not. The pedicab disappeared within a year.

I thought about Su again as I worked on this week’s cover story, which is basically a lament to the underutilized parking decks in our city. The pedicab is actually a fantastic solution to the relative sprawl that plagues downtown Greensboro, making a trip from any of the city’s parking decks to every quarter of the center city much more palatable, particularly on beautiful, warm evenings but also under blankets in the cold.

Had she stuck it out, Su might have a whole fleet of pedicabs by now, and perhaps a staff of earnest pedal-pushers like the one I encountered in Salt Lake. Su Dragon Yu could have been a fixture in downtown Greensboro by now, a three-wheeled dynasty.

Maybe there weren’t enough riders. Maybe she was under-capitalized. Maybe she lost interest. Maybe she’s driving an Uber now. I don’t know — I never got the rest of the story.

But I know we sure could use her now.