ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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No Space for Cycle Rickshaws

While cycle rickshaws provide a clean and non-polluting source of public transport, cities and governments refuse to change traffic rules to accommodate them. As a result, the cities are failing to capitalise on the one resource that India has in abundance--human capital.

Apart from Delhi, most Indian cities are struggling against the paucity of transport, air pollution, traffic jams and road accidents. To deal with this, we need an integrated urban transport policy based on local resources. This should be cheap, sustainable and give equal opportunity/space and rights to all. How do we ensure this? Mahatma Gandhi had suggested that policies should be made keeping in mind the weakest and the poorest person and asking whether they would help such a person. In this context, the rickshaw is the weakest but the most important mode of public transport on our city streets. But do rickshaws have an equal right to our streets?

The cycle rickshaw has been an integral part of our urban life. It is not just an object of the past; it exists even today. The cycle rickshaw is not just the means of livelihood for millions of people, it also provides town dwellers a convenient mode of transport that prevents air and noise pollution as well as the consumption of fossil fuels. The cycle rickshaw is essential to increase the efficiency of newer means of transport, like the metro in a city like Delhi. The Delhi metro operates on selected routes. In the absence of cycle rickshaws, the utility of the metro remains limited. It is the cycle rickshaw that fulfils the first and last mile connectivity (Advani 2010). It does this not only for the metro but for all public means of transport such as buses or rail. Despite its usefulness, cycle rickshaws are not allowed to park near metro stations or bus stops. The traffic police constantly harass rickshaw pullers. Yet, rickshaws continue to be popular as they are easily available and provide a cheap mode of transport for travel within a crowded locality for passengers and cargo (Sood 2012).

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