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