"It's totally up to me," she said. "At this point, this is a work in progress."
Nugent's pedicab is basically a gearless children's bicycle with a third wheel and a covered sidecar — "a modified tricycle," as she describes it. Made of recycled materials and found objects, it has a bench chair, big enough to seat two children, for passengers. The attached, hooded cab is fashioned from plywood, PCU piping and streamers, with a canopy made of fabric from a window shade.
Nugent has decorated the passenger seat and canopy with collages of magazine ads. The roof and poles come off.
"It's collapsible," Nugent said.
In addition to fostering conversations, the pedicab is a conversation piece."I get stares," she said. "I get dropped jaws. Children are wide-eyed."
It's an odd feeling for Nugent, who despite her very public project, describes herself as an introvert and says she can feel people's eyes following her.
"I'll know that this person is looking at me with this crazy contraption," she said.
But Nugent, an aspiring college art teacher, also dreams of starting a nonprofit program working with communities to build their own pedicabs, exposing children and young adults to art.
"Ideally, I would not want to charge money for them. This project is pretty personal. It might look pretty goofy, but it allows me to interact with people. It becomes a vehicle for conversation."
On Saturday, Nugent, wearing a recorder on her arm, brought her pedicab to the farmers' market, assisted by one of her roommates, Beth Mendenhall, a graduate student studying political science at Johns Hopkins University, who served as a volunteer recruiter of passengers.
The market crowd was wide-eyed, including MICA President Fred Lazarus, of Roland Park, who had heard of Nugent's pedicab, but was seeing it for the first time.
"I think it's fabulous, but wouldn't I?" Lazarus said, admitting, "I'm biased."
"I think the idea of using it for oral histories is a great way to engage people," Lazarus said.
Nugent's stay at the market was short-lived. A member of the market's board of directors gently but firmly asked her to leave, saying it was too crowded for her to pedal her pedicab down the narrow main aisle.
"Let's go to Plan B," Nugent said resourcefully, and began pedaling up 32nd Street toward Greenmount Avenue. On the way, she met recently widowed Eric Rogers, 50, of Towson, the maintenance director at Calvert Hall College High School, who was on his way to buy nuts at the market, and invited him to ride with her and give her an oral history.
"I'm game," said the Baltimore native, a former resident of Wilson Park off York Road, who told Nugent about his family's tobacco farming history, his five children and three grandchildren and why he loves the Baltimore area.
"I think (the Pedicab Project) is nice," Rogers said afterward. "I wish her success. She seems determined and she has a good heart. I couldn't walk away from a person like that."
Nugent also gave a ride to psychotherapist and yoga instructor Lauren Going, 33, of Ednor Gardens, and her daughter, Asla, 3.
"It was fun," Going said, as Asla rang the pedicab's bell. "It looks just like a rickshaw."