A pedalo is a type of human-powered water transport which is primarily designed for use in inland waters and calm lakes. Several companies manufacture pedalos for sale around the world, in a variety of designs from the practical to the whimsical. This type of watercraft is a popular tourist attraction on some lakes and rivers, with tourists renting pedalos and using them to tour the water for a few hours.
These boats rely on a paddle wheel as a method of propulsion. While many people associate paddle wheels with classic steamboats, they can also be moved by pedaling, with the motion of the pedals being transferred to the wheel to get the boat moving. In a single-seater pedalo, one person does all of the work with a set of pedals in the middle of the boat, while multiple seaters offer the opportunity for several people to pedal at once, generating more energy to move the craft.
A variety of materials can be used to make pedalos, including wood, plastic, and composite materials. More ornate versions of the pedalo may be shaped like various aquatic animals such as swans, while simple versions stick to basics, providing a seat, a pair of pedals, and a paddle wheel which may be fully exposed or concealed under a cowling for safety.
While the pedalo is not really designed for long trips, this type of boat can be enjoyable for a jaunt around a waterway. Pedalos are also good exercise, for those who feel thus inclined and can sustain a rapid pedaling rate, as the pedaling will develop the legs and get the heart rate up, providing cardiovascular exercise benefits. Some pedalos also include seats for passengers, allowing people to take turns pedaling.
Most pedalos are in service at boat rental facilities located on lakes and rivers. People can pay a set fee to take a boat out, or a fee based on hours of usage, depending on the policies of the facility. Using a pedalo doesn't require any special instructions, making it suitable for people without boating experience, although boat rental companies may request that people wear life jackets and confirm that customers can swim. People can also buy pedalos for use on waterways near their homes, if they find this type of watercraft particularly enjoyable; often, a good price can be obtained on used pedalos from a boat rental company which needs to reduce its stock.