Cycle rickshaw: Wikis


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Trishaws from Parit Jawa, Muar, Johor, at the Muzium Negara, Kuala Lumpur
Cycle rickshaw in Beijing

The cycle rickshaw is a small-scale local means of transport; it is also known by a variety of other names such as pedicab, bikecab, cyclo, or trishaw. The term Rickshaw is used more broadly, and also refers to auto rickshaws, and the, now uncommon, rickshaws pulled by a person on foot. Cycle rickshaws are human-powered, a type of tricycle designed to carry passengers in addition to the driver. They are often used on a for hire basis. Cycle rickshaws are widely used in major cities around the world, but most commonly in cities of South, Southeast and East Asia.



An extensively decorated trishaw in Melaka

The vehicle is powered by a driver as one would a bicycle, though some configurations are equipped with an electric motor to assist the driver.[1][2] The vehicle is usually a tricycle, though some quadracycle models exist, and some bicycles with trailers are configured as rickshaws. The configuration of driver and passenger seats vary by design, though passenger seats are usually located above the span of the longest axle. For example, in most of South Asia, the passenger seat is located behind the driver on a "delta" tricycle, while in Indonesia and Vietnam the driver sits behind the passenger seat on a "tadpole" tricycle. In the Philippines, the passenger seats are usually located beside the driver.


A Velotaxi rickshaw in Hamburg, Germany.

Cycle rickshaws are known as cyclo (pronounced see-clo) in Cambodia and Vietnam, cycle rickshaw in India and Bangladesh, trishaw (simplified Chinese: 三轮车traditional Chinese: 三輪車pinyin: sān lún chē) from "tricycle rickshaw", in Malaysia and Singapore, becak in Indonesia, and padyak or traysikad in the Philippines. Cycle rickshaws are known as saika in Myanmar, a transliteration of English "side car". In the United Kingdom and United States cycle rickshaws are more widely pedicabs[citation needed]. In Buffalo, New York, this type of vehicle is known as a bike taxi. In Mexico, they are called bicitaxi or taxi ecologico (literally "ecological taxi").

  • In Thailand, any three-wheeler is called samlor (Thai: สามล้อ, which literally means "three wheels"), whether motorized or not, including pedicabs, motorcycles with attached vending carts or sidecars, etc. The driver is also called samlor. True, Thai auto rickshaws are known in popular parlance as tuk-tuks but, in Thai, the latter usage as well as its characteristic style is largely restricted to Bangkok and Chiangmai.

Outside Asia

A cycle rickshaw driver in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cycle rickshaws are also used in most large European, and some North America cities, primarily their novelty values, as an entertaining form of transportation for tourists and locals, but they also have environmental benefits and may be quicker than other forms of transport if traffic congestion is high. Cycle rickshaws used out side Asia often are mechanically more complex, having multiple gears, more powerful brakes, and in some cases electrical motors to provide additional power.

Economic and political aspects

In many Asian cities where they are widely used, rickshaw driving provides essential employment for recent immigrants from rural areas, generally impoverished men. One study in Bangladesh showed that rickshaw driving was connected with some increases in income for poor agricultural laborers who moved to urban areas, but that the extreme physical demands of the job meant that these benefits decreased for long-term drivers.[3] In Jakarta, most rickshaw drivers in the 1980s were former landless agricultural laborers from rural areas of Java.[4]

In 2003, Dhaka rickshaw drivers earned an estimated average of Tk 143 (US$2.38) per day, of which they paid about Tk 50 (US$0.80) to rent the rickshaw for a day. Older, long-term drivers earned substantially less.[3] A 1988-89 survey found that Jakarta drivers earned a daily average of Rp. 2722 (US$ 1.57).[4] These wages, while widely considered very low for such physically demanding work, do in some situations compare favorably to jobs available to unskilled workers.[5]

In many cities, most drivers do not own their own rickshaws; instead, they rent them from their owners, some of whom own many rickshaws. Driver-ownership rates vary widely. In Delhi, a 1980 study found only one percent of drivers owned their vehicles, but ownership rates in several other Indian cities were much higher, including fifteen percent in Hyderabad and twenty-two percent in Faridabad. A 1977 study in Chiang Mai, Thailand found that 44% of rickshaw drivers were owners. In Bangladesh, driver-ownership is usually highest in rural areas and lowest in the larger cities. Most rickshaws in that country are owned by individuals who have only one or two of them, but some owners in the largest cities own several hundred.[5]

Taiwanese Prohibitory Sign P9: No Pedicabs

Some countries and cities have banned or restricted cycle rickshaws. They are often prohibited in congested areas of major cities. For example, they were banned in Bangkok in the mid 1960s as not fitting the modern image of the city being promoted by the government.[citation needed] In Dhaka and Jakarta, they are no longer permitted on major roads, but are still used to provide transportation within individual urban neighborhoods.[citation needed] They are banned entirely in Pakistan.[citation needed] While they have been criticized for causing congestion, rickshaws are also often hailed as environmentally-friendly, inexpensive modes of transportation.

In Taiwan, the Road Traffic Security Rules require pedicabs to be registered by their owners with the police before they can be legally driven on public roads, or risk an administrative fine of 300 new Taiwan dollars (TWD). Their drivers must carry the police registration documents or risk a fine of 180 TWD, but no driver license is required. The administrative fines are based on Articles 69 and 71 of the Act Governing the Punishment of Violation of Road traffic Regulations. As Taiwanese road traffic is now heavily motorized, most pedicabs have been replaced by taxicabs, but they can still be found at limited places, such as Cijin District of Kaohsiung City.


Trishaws are used to ferry tourists around the city for sightseeing in Singapore

As a key part of the urban landscape in many cities, rickshaws have been both the subject of films and other artwork, as well as being extensively decorated themselves. The rickshaws in Dhaka is especially well-known as a major venue for Bengali folk art; there, plasticine cutouts and handpainted figures adorn many rickshaws.[6]

Films featuring rickshaws and their drivers include Kickboxer and Sammo Hung's 1989 martial arts film Pedicab Driver, which dealt with a group of pedicab drivers and their problems with romance and organized crime. Cyclo, a 1995 film by Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung, is centered on a cycle rickshaw driver. Tollywood films with rickshaw themes include Orey Rickshaw ("Orey" literally means "Hey", in a derogatory tone), which tells a story sympathising with the downtrodden, and Rickshavodu ("Rickshaw Guy").

Men of Burden: Pedaling towards a Horizon (2006) is a documentary film on cycle rickshaw men in Pondicherry, India.

See also

A becak and its driver wait for a fare in Bandung, Indonesia


Rickshaws in Dhaka, Bangladesh
  1. ^ Keith, Barry (2010-01-11). "Solar Rickshaws Ready for Delhi". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Sustainable Transportation Solution for Auto Rickshaws". Illinois Institute of Technology. 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Begum, Sharifa and Binayak Sen (2005). Pulling rickshaws in the city of Dhaka: a way out of poverty? Environment and Urbanization 17(2):11-25.
  4. ^ a b Azuma, Yoshifumi (2003). Urban peasants: beca drivers in Jakarta. Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan.
  5. ^ a b Gallagher, Rob (1992). The rickshaws of Bangladesh. Dhaka: The University Press Limited.
  6. ^ Kirkpatrick, Joanna. (2003) Transports of Delight: The Ricksha Arts of Bangladesh. Indiana University Press. Multimedia CDROM.

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