Friday, September 14, 2007

National Ride to Work Day

Wednesday 17th October will be National Ride to Work Day in Australia and I have decided to get on board for the Big breakfast at our local University!

Our breakfast will be held at the Student Square BBQ area at Charles Darwin University, Casuarina NT. 7:00 to 9:00am

We will have representatives from various community groups and are expecting a good turn our of people from the local community.

Alas I still haven't found a Rickshaw. I thought I would have one by now but my plans have fallen through. It would have been great to transport people to work on the day, but I guess I'll be riding my bike.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Asia in North Australia

There's a long distance between Broome in North Western Australia and the bulk of this country's population both in miles and cultural makeup. It's kind of a shame that time is tightening it's grip and like many other unique places in the world the gap is closing fast.
Since I was a kid I have wanted to visit Broome. I have had a romantic fixation on the place ever since I first heard of the place years ago. I can't remember when the image first came to me of that tropical paradise:

~ Red earth; blue sky; emerald sea!
~ Brown skinned beauties, the daughters of pearlers
~ Wild kids on the edge of a place...
~ they say it's Australia but it sure looks like Asia
~ Busted tin roofs, dirty red shoes and the sun lazy and tropical
~ Sometimes a hint of frangipanni, clove cigarettes and dried fish
~ rise on the cool desert breeze
~ It's the dry!
~ Bougainvilleas fill the gaps in rusty tin walls
~ easterlies nudge shells strung on fences
~ nothing like I know...
~ Did AB Patterson or Lawson ever write it?
~ That man in his dingy little office or the bushman Clancy never knew a thing about it!
~ Mangoes, fresh fish, and Music
~ Salt water cowboys.. tough proud men...
~ Skin tanned by sun, fed on sea and torn by shells!
~ Survivors! So far away... forgotten... A bureaucratic anomaly...
~ A true haven for dreamers drifters and reprobates! The raged unwanted
~ A place for me?


It may have been on one of Alby Mangles amazing adventure films or it may even have been the Leyland Brothers... I can't remember but from that time on I was headed north and west.. Would I ever get there?

That place is far from where I come from and the cost had prevented me from getting there... (well unlike Alby I never made the decision to just GO!) So eventually back in 1996 I plucked up the nerve to take extended leave from my job, sell all my stuff and head off on a world trip of my own with the intention of coming back to Australia and Broome! I made it around the globe OK found myself back in Darwin, a good launching place for a trip to Broome, and wound up married with a 1.5 children and still no closer to my destination! Ironically my wife, who I met in Darwin, also landed there on her way West!

Well finally, after countless holidays back to Melbourne we both decided enough is enough! We packed up the car squeezed the kid into a gap on the back seat, filled the glove box with Play School, Hoolidoolys and Seseme Street tapes then set off! Across the Kimberleys and Westward towards Broome. Broome the place of our dreams, Broome the romantic Asian haven far far away from the influences of the bland Anglo Australia that even Darwin reeks heavily of! Away to somewhere free of the network TV cutout figure of what Australia would be if we would all just white up a little. On to Australia as it could have been if the ever colonial Orang Putih had just been a little more friendly to the locals and the help!

We arrived at Broome by road, on a crowded single lane highway full of RV's. A multi million dollar rolling stock of diesel guzzling self contained apartments on multi axle trailers! Caravans & motor homes lumber in and out of town in endless streams the streets are choked with elderly citizens from southern towns come for the warmth and a pretty place to camp! As we roll through the roundabout past the giant new tourist information centre the next thing we see are those too, too familiar golden arches!

We have arrived! Just 20 years too late! All the stories were true! Broome has been consumed by tourism and is no longer the place it was. I looked hard to find the Broome I'd dreamed of. I'm sure there are still plenty of people still living who can recall it well but for our short stay it was only a relic or a curiosity from the past. There are plenty of facades to remind us of Broome but the cultural conversion has begun. They say the population doubles or maybe trebles in the the tourist season and we were just one more car load of tourists come to sit at cable beach or gawk at the peculiar architecture or the beautiful faces of an Asian Indigenous Australia so different from what we know!

Still I loved Broome. Among some of the relics around town I discovered a pair of Indonesian Becaks on display at the Sun Pictures open air cinema, too bad no one has thought of recommissioning them to cart the tourists around town. Alas Broome town is choking on the soot of 100's of dirty diesel burning 4x4 pleasure craft plying its otherwise lovely streets. Windows rolled up, air conditioners blasting as the folks galk for glimpses of the Broome they have buried!

Becak at Sun Pictures

Monday, June 18, 2007

Crime fighting Pedicab riders from the UK

Ben, Will and, I presume their new friends
~These guys sense of civic purpose can even be extended to Law Enforcement~

I've been getting Google alerts relating to this story all week and haven't bothered to post but these guys are becoming quite famous and I don't want to miss out on carrying the top Pedicab story of the month.
According to a multitude of recycled articles and somewhere way back into my dim recollections of last week, the original report, a couple of Police officers commandeered a Pedicab and driver to apprehend a naughty guy who was breaching his bail conditions.
According to one report (the last page left in my browser tabs after I'd closed about 15 on the same story!) HERE
"The officers hopped into a pedicab (a two-seat tricycle powered by a cyclist) and pressed driver Ben Matthews into action. Fellow pedicab driver Will Vaughan spotted Matthews as he crossed Castle Green, a park in the center of town, and pedaled over to help."

Well it turns out the guys are actually quite worthy of my attention?! (I still don't know why I didn't post this story when I first read it!) They even have a blog dedicated to their environmentally friendly efforts and it is called:
Mules for the Masses
Which they describe as: Fun Green and Honest - A unique endeavour into sustainable environmentally friendly travel

It is a great blog and definitely fits the bill for my unrealized objectives. Good on you fellas, I hope this good publicity holds you in good stead with your local council and you are not legislated out of existence like so many other Pedicab drivers these days! Maybe your high public profile might be useful in carrying your own special message?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rickshaw Pullers documentary

I recently came across the blog Jan Madhyam Productions which appears to be the outlet for a group of committed documentary makers from India who are based in New Delhi. There is a documentary film called, Unheard Voices: The Rickshaw Pullers of Mussoori

The organization has a very interesting profile and appear to be producing documentary films that challenge the liberties taken by the rich and powerful, for those of us who live in developed countries who enjoy the privileged life of exes I think that means us too!

All I know about the documentary is what I read on the blog but it looks like it questions deeply, the moral conundrum of low paid manual labor which so obviously places one person above another.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rickshaws to the rescue

A couple of interesting stories today.
One from the UK where the police find a new use for the humble Rickshaw as an aid to law enforcement, the other a continuation on the story of the Rickshaw expulsion from Chadni Chowk.

Police use rickshaw to get to crime scene

Chandni Chowk moves on, sans the rickshaws

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sad news for common sense

Two of the articles I came across this week really stood out.
One in India the other in the United states but both concerning the persecution of Pedicab and Rickshaw riders by shortsighted regulatory bodies.

Free Transportation Service Shut Down by Government (National Center for Public Research, U.S.A)

End of rickshaw era in Chandini Chowk (IBN Live)

There's also a video attached to the story on IBN Live (Click Here)

It seems that both situations are examples of a lack of foresight by transport officials! The Chandini Chowk story is an obvious attack on RickshawWalahs the officials there claiming that by removing rickshaws they will reduce congestion and reduce noise pollution! - I doubt it! What about all the Walahs who will now be out of work.
The case in Santa Barbara is just an example of how high insurance costs and an increasing regulations have stifled these peoples attempt to improve the quality of life in their city. Another enlightened transport opportunity canned because it doesn't fit the local beuraucratic model

Thursday, May 31, 2007

My favorite Pedicab option

Murray the author of the blog CoffeeWaffle, one of my favorites, recently bought a pedicab and is experimenting with how he might put it to use in his home town of Nelson, New Zealand.

Murray's friend Emile with their identical Pedicabs on a street in Nelson

I particularly like the design of their machines and think, if I ever manage to purchase a pedicab, this is the model I will be looking for. It is a Rickshaw/Pedicab(TC98)from the China Vehicle Co., ltd It appear to have everything I am looking for. Simple classic design, not too much fiberglass and a canopy for extra shade!
My plan/dream is beginning to take form as ideas are flooding into my mind about how I might actually get started (a dangerous mix of forward planning and absolute fantasy!). I think it is now time to consider how I might afford to actually purchase one of these beautiful machines!

It's funny I suggested my plan to a guy I met on the street recently and believe it or not he didn't say it was crazy! We spent about an hour on the side of the road discussing how cool it would be to just cruise around helping people to get from A to B! People like the old ladies who don't drive but want to shop at the local Mall. The ones who have to take their chances with the angry traffic because there is virtually no pedestrian access that doesn't involve walking on a motorway! Or the lady I see walking miles to get her three young children to school... etc... etc...
The possibilities were flying thick and fast, I'd finally found someone who could see the beauty in my plan and didn't try to bring me down by pointing out that it would be impossible to make a reasonable profit by doing such things! Am I doing this solely to make money? Is it possible to do something just because it feels good?

I am sure it would be an interesting experience for anyone brave enough to try such a novelty. Before I took a rickshaw ride I was embarrased to get on one and although I wanted to try I declined lots of offers and opportunities. When I finally took that ride it was an absolute joy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Council permits and Pedicabs

I wonder what drives local Council bylaws in relation to Pedicabs?
Obviously they perceive Pedicabs and Rickshaws as some kind of threat to the public amenity; but why?

In Cities all around the world traffic congestion is a huge problem. Councils look for ways to make their cities more people friendly by installing walking streets and malls. Speed limits are reduced and roads are transformed to one way only traffic or obstacles are sometimes inserted to prevent traffic from encroaching on pedestrian space.
Surely a great solution to transportation within congested city centers would be the wholesale adoption of man powered environmentally friendly transport. In cities such as Singapore the bicycle Rickshaws are considered an attraction. Rickshaw travel enables people to engage with their environment and reduces the potential for serious collisions between vehicles and pedestrians in built up areas. They are an ideal option for transporting tourists who may wish to visit shopping areas that are often just beyond comfortable walking distance.

On the weekend we visited the Wharf precinct which is currently under construction. There were many cars that had to turn around because of lack of parking space close to the wharf and the road onto the wharf was full of cars just idling along. I am sure there must have been many people who just gave up and went home. This would have been a perfect opportunity to set up a ferry system between the Wharf and the further car parks as a service to elderly people or those who could not walk that distance. I would like to arrange a business along these lines but am unsure of how my local council will react. Articles I have read do nothing but confirm that Councils the world over are obsessed with restricting the use of rickshaws on public roads. I just don't get this. I plan to make some inquiries this week but am a little weary of giving them any reason to refuse me.

There were a couple of interesting articles over the past couple of days one of which related to what I am talking about. Check out this link in The Oxford Student.

And India-e-news has a story on rickshaws that gives some scope to the aesthetics of the machine. Cycle rickshaws: Poor man's lifeline in Bangladesh

Blogger post Merepek

Big bell

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A question of competition

While reading this article about Greenway Pedicabs in the USA it occurred to me there is a serious flaw in the argument made by taxi cab drivers in the USA about pedicabs steeling their business.
The author of the article describes his first experience of riding in a pedicab and reflects on whether they can be considered a serious transport option. He found the pedicab to be a little slow and thought it was a nice alternative to walking but not a great option if you were in a hurry.
Fair enough comment I suppose.
Then it dawned on me, I'm a bit slow, the reason cab drivers are worried about the competition from pedicabs must be that traffic is so congested in places like NYC that there is no speed advantage to being in a car!
Now that would be a problem. All those cars spewing carbon monoxide and they're just sitting there while pedicabs glide in and pick up pedestrians offering them the opportunity to actually move through the town rather than sitting in a cab with the meter running.

The following article in the Deccan Herald about a rickshaw bank in India that is attempting to raise the standard of living of rickshaw pullers by providing them with cheep rickshaws that can be payed off over time after which they would be owned outright by the men who pull them allowing them to earn a more substantial living than they would otherwise.
Asom rickshaws to help meet UN Millennium Goals

Monday, April 16, 2007

Busy. Madurai

Busy. Madurai, originally uploaded by entrelec.

Although the work is manual and appears to be quite grueling. This photo by Joel 'etrelec' shows the capacity for velo-trucks, or cycle utility vehicles or whatever you want to call them, to increase mobility in areas of dense population. The photo was taken in a vegetable market in Madurai about a year ago. Joel is a great portrait photographer who's photographs are uplifting and quite candid. Looking at his collections is like taking an anthropological journey through the countries he has visited.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Back-view Bollywood #17

Back-view Bollywood #17, originally uploaded by Meanest Indian.

I love the individuality of dressed up rickshaws in Asia. Here is an example of mud-flap art that is popular on rickshaws and trucks in parts of India. Although I'm not really into the Bollywood characters I think the idea's great.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Good news on ther horizon for Malaysian trishaw riders

It's encouraging to see that Malaysia hasn't forgotten to include Trishaws in it's plans for the future.
The State Tourism Action Council said this:
"Our trishaw riders will be an integral part of our efforts to boost new tourism products."


you can read the article in New Straits times HERE.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

NYC Pedicab reprive

There's a bunch of stuff on the www. about the recent change of heart by the Mayor of New York, who decided he needed more time to consider the consequences of proposed legislation to cap the number of Pedicabs on NY city streets.
I believe that to stop the process when it has already progressed so far is an act of humility. It is never too late to realize an error of judgment in order to prevent a bigger mistake in the long run. To sign the Bill would have been a mistake but still rarely do we see a leader who is prepared to reconsider the implications of his or her actions. It seems that NYC has a Mayor who is big enough to listen to the people and see reason when presented with a reasonable argument and a fair amount of opposition. Good on you Mayor Bloomberg!

Check out the links to this story:

NY 1
Bloomberg Puts Brakes On Pedicab Bill

New York Post

This Week at City Hall: Bill Non-Signing, 40th Updates
Mayor Bloomberg Decides Not to Sign Pedicab Bill

AM New York
Scramble after mayor's pedicab U-Turn
Poised to regulate pedicabs--mayor hesitates

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mayoral reprive for Pedicab industry

I have no energy for posting to my blogs lately, I doubt that would bother too many people as they are regularly not read anyway. Just thought I'd post a link to an interesting development in the NYC pedicab legislation that was totally unexpected.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Men of Burden - Trailer

I have not been able to find out when this documentary will be released or if it will even be available in Australia but it looks like it will document a unique and important aspect of culture that will be too easily forgotten by the modern and developing world.

Friday, March 2, 2007

NYC council votes against sustainable future

The pressure has been on New York City pedicab drivers and recently the council voted to limit the number of pedicabs operating in the city. It seems various other regulations are also being considered that will have a disastrous effect on the future for pedicab drivers in the city.
There may have been some concerns about localized issues or even conflicting views on the presence of pedicabs in what may be already crowded city streets but there is no doubt that this kind of decision is a vote against an environmentally sustainable future! Imagine if they took a totally different approach to pedicabs and transport in general. Many of the issues regarding safety and congestion could be resolved if there were in fact more pedicabs and less cars on the road. Just imagine that!

Check the links:

Pedicab drivers brace for big changes

City council passes passes...

New York Post
City curbs pedicabs...

City council OK's rules for pedicabs...

New York Times
Pedicabs: Menace or Threat?


The Hindu
Cycle rickshaws find some support...

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Bilaws or Outlaws

Why are city councils all over the world so slow to realize their responsibility in supporting environmentally responsible transport alternatives? It seems ridiculous that legislation, regulations, bureaucratic stipulations and their competitors protestations can be allowed to block one of the simplest and cheapest solutions to the environmental and social problems associated with urban transport.

I still have no great stories to share or news of having acquired my own rickshaw or pedicab as yet. Please check out some of the pedicab news I've collected today.

City Council Member to Argue Against Limiting Pedicabs

What's happening in Utah

City Council Set To Vote on Pedicabs Today...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bicycle ambulance

Picture 268, originally uploaded by aaronforest.

In Namibia people are addressing their need for low cost transportation of sick and injured people to hospitals and medical centers.
This bike trailer is being developed and is expected to be a great improvement in communities that don't have access to motorized vehicles.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Forest via the Bikes Namibia blog.

News updates

Taj Mahal tourism takes on an eco-friendly approach

Rickshaw race to encourage Cooperation between police ant rickshaw riders in Delhi (includes video)

It is great to see that in Malaysia people still appreciate the trishaw I think in some parts people still have fond memories of when they were more commonly used as transport. They now seem to have become an endearing part of Malaysia's cultural heritage. As the following report on the Chinese New Year Open House celebration in Malacca shows trishaws hold a special place in the hearts of many Malaysians. I hope Malaysia is able to look to the trishaw as appropriate urban transport for the modern age as well as a romantic reminder of their past.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

BikeBlog: Save the Pedicabs

Michael the BikeBlogging activist from Brooklyn made this great post back on the 14th of February.


I don't know that the confrontational approach is always the most effective when trying to gain acceptance from hostile councils or government bureaucrats but as the much used quote goes:
"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything"
Alex Hamilton (I think)

The Telegraph Calcutta, India
What do the educated people in Calcutta turn to when there aren't enough jobs for professionals?
When jobs are peddled, pedal out a future

Allie's 8th Day

I've been wondering what has been happening with Allie from Oceanside, who had recently embarked on an journey to pull a rickshaw from Oceanside CA. to Las Vegas Nevada. I'd followed the updates on his website but after day 7 there had been no entries for a couple of days.
It seems that after just 8 days Allie has had to end his journey. He has met with some of the hostility that pedestrians and cyclists are often confronted with when they try to use the roadways of the worlds.
You can read about Allies experience in the Palm Springs area by clicking Here.

I was sad to read of his experience but not surprised. I was not surprised to read of the hostility towards him or of the attitude of the police. Those guys probably had no idea what Allie was doing out there maybe they just saw an easy target and had what they consider to be fun? Maybe the police acted out of concern for Allie or maybe they didn't want the drama of protecting him from rednecks. Maybe sometimes it seems the only people we meet on the road are philistines and vandals. It must be near impossible for an enlightened soul to survive in this sort of company. How long can a man survive in that kind of environment? Who knows? I don't know. It seems to me that when people cease to care for one another it doesn't take long before personal suffering becomes unbearable.

Thanks Allie for being man enough to bear yourself to the world and to give it a go. You are an inspiration. We don't need martyrs just some people who can set a good example and you have done that in an exceptional way. I will look forward to reading your reflections on this journey, if you ever feel like writing about it.

Interesting post on Jetsettersblog about a rickshaw pullers bank project in India
Click Here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trishaw Stories

I've been talking to a friend at work who comes from a village near Penang in Malaysia. She recalls the days when trishaws were the most affordable mode of transport in her village and trishaw riders were respected in the community. I guess it's a combination of stories like these and the rapid disappearance of trishaws as a viable commuter vehicle that has spurred me on to create this blog. I hope, if I can find the time, to gather as much information as I can from people who have similar experiences so I can maybe present in some way a view of the world that might soon be lost from our collective memory. I suppose the blog is a way of expressing some of this publicly in the hope that others might ponder the same questions as me.
If I can get my act together I'd like to publish a little of my friends story about her childhood memories of trishaws, her village and the changes that have taken place over the past 30 odd years.

Allie's Progress

It seems that Allie is finding a few bumps in the road. The brief description of his experience on day seven of his journey gives a pretty clear impression of the loneliness that can be found on the road. I think traveling away from home can bring some challenging and threatening experiences particularly if you don't blend into the crowd(I don't recall seeing too many hand pulled rickshaws in Palm Springs when I was there). It must be a bit of an Odyssey for Allie right now, never knowing what kind of reception he may receive. A bit like the Samaritan in the bible, he might be finding people suspicious and distrusting. A good reminder of how important it is to have a caring community around you. Keep up the leg work Allie I think you'll gain from this something most of us never get to experience. Be safe. Peace!

A great photo of a hand pulled rickshaw in Kyoto Japan. Click Here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


I've just discovered a new blog that appears to be devoted to the cause of increasing the 'Peddle Powered Urban Transport System'. (Hey I think I've just invented a phrase, don't know about the acronym though P.P.U.T.S)
The blog is called Vert-i-go and seems to center around the transport situation in the Authors town of Sheffield England. It seems to be quite well constructed. The theme is definitely one of peddle power advocacy and it provides some passionate arguments for the increase of human powered transport.

Check it out : Vert-i-go

(Well comparatively emission free, it will depend on what you had for breakfast. ha...ha..)

My apologies Vert-i-go for stealing your quot but I liked it too much.
“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” H.G. Wells
(Isn't That cool!)

My work, shops and most other places I need to travel are well within riding distance from my home. I try to cycle as much as possible but have a young family who aren't always able to ride. Solution - get hold of a rickshaw and peddle them as often as I can! I expect to receive much protest from my wife and other road users but isn't it a cool concept? Unless I can find a fully enclosed air conditioned rickshaw that doesn't allow anyone to see in. I doubt I could coax my wife to go along with my little scheme. Imagine how much quieter and safer the road would be if everyone took a rickshaw for journeys less than 10 km.

Oh I almost forgot there's a video of Allie the American Rickshaw-wallah on the North County Times website. Check it out Here.
Listening to the interview I can't help thinking that Allie has taken his Shangra-La logo to heart and is bringing a little taste of Utopia to the people he passes along the way.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Allie is about to embark on day four of his journey. This is a journey that will require immense physical and psychological strength and endurance. I wonder if the unnatural strain that pulling a rickshaw must put on the shoulders could lead to thoracic problems . I have bad shoulders and would fear doing permanent damage if I attempted anything like this. I hope Allies muscles are in good shape for the extra strain he will be enduring. However, acting out of gratitude to his community, Allie appears to be on a kind of spiritual mission that might just succeed despite the odds.

Allie at Oceanside prior to departure
(Photo courtesy of Shangra-la)

North Country Times
Oceanside man plans to pull rickshaw from Oceanside to Vegas

On day one Allie left Oceanside he is now somewhere near a place called Temecula.

If you're curious about why Allie would want to do this please read his Press Release

Saturday, February 10, 2007

In the News

A disgraceful practice that flourished when the British lorded over the people

New Rickshaw business in the Caymans

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Opposing views

Already as I read rickshaw related content on the internet I am finding this a hugely controversial subject. Coming from my western perspective living in an age of global warming and unprecedented environmental destruction I see the rickshaw as a symbol of the way I'd prefer the world. (Slower, quieter, more friendly...) However the rickshaw represents different things to different people. Through it's history it has also been a symbol of colonial power, oppression and a class system that devalued the lives of those who performed any menial, labour intensive work.
In no way would I condone these attitudes and I can understand why Asian countries would want to distance themselves from these images. However as with most things there has also evolved a culture independent of the oppressive exploitation that the vehicle had come to represent.
Rickshaws have also been used to perpetuate Asian stereotypes in western countries and therefore represent some kind of conceptual shackle; stereotypes create limitations and who wants to be limited? But these things are never straight forward and one man's stereotype might to another be his greatest source of cultural pride. There is also lack of cultural understanding or a lack of knowledge of the history of certain symbols. However I believe that history would also show that the meaning of symbols can change or be changed by the will of the people.

I am unqualified and under informed to debate this matter but I can say that I am aware of it's complexity. There was an ongoing debate on the net about the way a Christian organization advertised one of it's events. The following article gives a little of the picture.

I think the use of comedy is always good for turning the tables and satire can sometimes reverse the scorn in seconds. The sketch 'Babakiueria' on the ABC program BASICALLY BLACK is a great example.

From the ABC's 50 years Indigenous TV

NARRATOR: In 'Babakiueria' the move towards satirical comedy was extended further through the complete role reversal within society.

ABORIGINAL MAN: this place?

CAUCASIAN MAN: It's a barbeque area.

ABORIGINAL MAN: Babakiueria? They call this Babakiueria. Nice native name... colourful. I like it.

Of course stereotypes will always be created and used to offend or demean others. The rickshaw is not the cause of injustice it was merely a symbol, maybe it could become a symbol of liberation and freedom. By riding my bike my conscience is released from taking responsibility for many environmental and social problems...

P.S - 5:30 pm

Todays news
IBN Live India New Delhi

Rickshaw tracking sensors and new rickshaw policy

Interesting commentary on Mental Floss

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Allie the Rickshaw wallah

I only started the blog this week and already I have come across a few people who want to share their rickshaw stories with me. Who knows this may develop into a rich tapestry of human experience delivered at running/riding pace. That's just fast enough to get you there but slow enough to to see (smile at) what or who you are passing.

That reminds me of a movie I watched once and there was one scene in it that stopped me in my tracks. I can't remember how it went but this is how I like to remember it.
The protagonists were in a hurry it was crucial that they got away from or to something as quickly as they could but the elder (Indigenous Australian I think) he kept sitting down or wandering slowly, dwelling on one place or another. "What's the matter with you?"
"I can't go too fast my soul won't know where to find me" Proclaimed the old man. Well it went something like that can't remember for sure but the moral is sometimes we've just got to slow it all down so our souls can catch-up! That's fairdinkum!

So anyway I contacted that guy Allie and his publicist/friend shared Allie's Rickshaw-wallah motto with me.

"Shangri-La Is the legendary Heaven On Earth that everyone is always seeking. This imaginary Shangri-La has become synonymous with a mystical paradise on earth. Our goal is to offer you a heavenly ride that is always tranquil, safe and courteous."

Allie plans to pull his rickshaw from Oceanside (somewhere between Long Beach and San Diego CA, USA) to Las Vegas. Possibly a Guinness Record!

Allie and a friend

Have a nice day.

Monday, February 5, 2007

A great story about guy in the States who has taken up the rickshaw

I really liked this story and found that Allie has a website at:

The colonial yoke

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Rickshaws in movies

I think as I don't see many around town (there may be three trishaws) I will make a list of all the films I see with rickshaws or trishaws in them.

Last night my wife and I watched a film called the White Countess. It was set in Shanghai around about the late 1930's and they'd managed to get heaps of hand pulled rickshaws into the the street scenes.
Watching the men running around pulling these contraptions was fascinating. On one hand I thought great! Look at all those rickshaws, but on the other hand I thought gee look at all those poor guys reduced to carrying other people around. How degrading! I am curious about the ambivalence I feel regarding this issue. My sense of justice and equality tells me that it is wrong for a person to sit in a chair and be drawn around by another person. Who is so much more important than another that he or she should be able to ride them like a horse or use another as a beast of burden?
On the other hand why does the rickshaw puller take such a job? How does he feel about doing this kind of work? How does he view himself in this role? Maybe the man looks on this as simply a job and a means of putting food on his families table. Maybe he feels no shame in doing it at all and maybe he is proud of his strength and ability.

Know there was a system that functioned on serfdom in Asia as in Europe that persisted into the 19th century and I expect all the attitudes of class divided people back then would guarantee the rickshaw puller would have been a very low status job. But I can't help believing that the profession could earn considerably more respect today.

As I write this post I realize how little I know about the history or the rickshaw or the attitude people have toward them. I hope as I investigate and try to verify my suspicions or questions that I might gain a fuller understanding of what is now no more than a admiring curiosity for me.

Todays posts that mention rickshaws / trishaws

The author of the following page said this...

"It also feels like you're paying a slave to pedal you somewhere." "...our fantastic trishaw driver who..."

trishaw philosophy, meat, and travel

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Welcome to my Rickshaw Blog.
The objective of this blog is to bring together a lot of the stuff that comes to mind things I have discovered about the fate and future of human powered transportation. I will be scanning the internet for articles related to the plight of rickshaw pullers or riders in developing Asian countries as well as any points of interest from elsewhere on the planet. I also hope to be posting examples of the successful use of bicycle transport and the positive effect this has had on communities.
I suggest that rather than demoralize the rickshaw puller or cyclists this occupation elevates them spiritually, physically and creates business opportunities that they otherwise would not have had.

In many places today rickshaws are seen as an inconvenient obstruction to traffic and detract from the impression of modernity that so many cities are chasing. I find it ironic that in this time of global warming and congested city streets that peddle power is not seen as the modern progressive mode of transport in our cities of the future.

If you share my enthusiasm for the humble rickshaw or have any rickshaw stories that might appeal please post your comment on this blog.

Today's Rickshaw stories, news etc...