Monday, June 30, 2008

Is The Cycle Rickshaw Making a Comeback?

Ever since nursery school, I had a rickshaw driver, Arjunan, who would
pick me up each morning and drop me back at home. To him this was not
just a job, I was almost another daughter to him. He would always be
on time and would get upset if I was running late for school,
nevertheless, my security and safety was of primary concern to him.
Each time I visit India, I make it a point to look him up and talk
about the good old days, he is 80 something years old now.

With cars and two wheelers crowding the Indian roads, it seemed as
though the rickshaws were a dying breed. However, with rising fuel
costs, it sounds as though they are making a comeback. This article
about cycle rickshaws was a very interesting read for me.

An article in the Washington Post says, "The bicycle rickshaws that
weave through New Delhi's narrow lanes have long been scorned by
authorities here for congesting the city's already fierce traffic. The
creaking carriages crawl alongside luxury sedans, book hawkers,
horse-drawn carts, hulking buses and cows.

In this city and the other quickly modernizing capitals of South Asia,
governments have called the rickshaws backward, embarrassing symbols
of the Third World.

Now, however, in a time of $7-a-gallon fuel in New Delhi and growing
concerns about pollution, environmental activists and transportation
experts are pushing back against rickshaw critics. And rickshaw
cyclists are seizing the moment to tout the virtues of their trade.

"My rickshaw is my life. It's very cheap for my passengers," said
Saurabh Ganguly, a 27-year-old rickshaw cyclist whose shirt was sticky
with dirt and grime. He proudly observed a knot of traffic where about
50 rickshaw cyclists were jangling their bells, pressing their horns
and zigzagging past lumbering buses belching plumes of black soot. "We
don't even pollute," Ganguly said. "We should be allowed to survive."

Read the full article at--

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