Q&A: Human lawnmower

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Bill Carnes lives by human power. Several years ago, he started driving a pedicab in the Short North. More recently, he started mowing lawns by hand, toting a push mower to small Clintonville yards on a bike trailer. He shared more about his peculiar pursuits.


I was born in Canton, but I moved out of there at a pretty young age. I call Clintonville my hometown. A lot of people from out of town, they'll complain. They'll say Columbus doesn't have this, it doesn't have that. I always feel it's like the underdog town - and that's why I kind of like it.


I rode a bike a lot as a kid. When I was a teenager, my uncle passed away, and I inherited his bicycle. It was important to me that it came from him, because he was an important person. When I was tall enough, I started riding it more regularly.


A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to work outside. I took a cross-country bicycle trip and just spent a whole month being outside. It was a really amazing trip. My friend and I started at Chittenden and High, and we went to visit his uncle in Olympia, Washington.


Three things I can't live without are chewing gum, two-wheeled transportation and music.


My business partner and I have two pedicabs. I like to call it "transpor-tainment." It's different from taking a taxi cab. It's very uncommon for people not to have a really good time. Sometimes you can get into some adventures or take little side trips.


Near the end of the winter, I started running out of money. I needed to do something else that I like.


The main reason I got interested in mowing lawns was because I started reading about the lack of regulation on lawn-care equipment. It's actually a huge source of pollution. It's not really any harder to do than pushing a regular mower. They've made a lot of great improvements to the push mower.


I like using my own muscles to do things. It's easy. Food is the only overhead, really.


It's been kind of a slow start this year because of the weather. It seems kind of surreal so far. You have to remind yourself what you're doing. I always thought it was kind of like performance art in a way. Right now, I'm mostly doing Clintonville.


In my spare time, I really enjoy playing guitar. I'm starting a small garden. I like cooking a lot. I make really good ravioli. I kind of want to buy a canoe. So if anyone has a canoe for sale, I'm in the market.


Something people might not know about me is that one time I made cookies at Gordon Gee's house. My friend was going on a date with his daughter. I was kind of set up on a blind date with her friend.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at jross@columbusalive.com.

Age: 35

Day job: Pedicab operator, human-powered lawn-mower

Neighborhood: Clintonville

Hometown: Columbus

E-mail: mr.carnes@yahoo.com

Playing Favorites

Favorite TV show: "The Simpsons"

Favorite movie: "The Bicycle Thief"

Favorite author: Mark Twain

Favorite book: "Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe

Favorite songwriter: Bob Dylan

Favorite food: Homemade pizza

Favorite drink: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Favorite place to travel: Out West