Bukatingi, N. Sumatra, Indonesia, March 1995
The tricycle taxi – or ‘cycle-rickshaw’ as it’s commonly known in Asia – is one of the most basic forms of vehicles for hire. Operating one requires little skill other than good leg muscles and the ability to weave precariously around obstacles, pot-holes and other vehicles. Drivers are invariably from the poorest social classes, so it is responsible tourism to support them and pay a reasonable fare. Once a cycle driver masters advance techniques in haggling – for example, stopping partway where there are no other cycles available to renegotiate the fare – he is ready to upgrade to a motorised three-wheeler taxi.
They are probably also the safest way to experience Asian traffic, though the Indonesian ‘becak’ pictured above puts the passengers first, so they would hypothetically meet obstacles in advance of the driver. The more common configuration is the Indian style with the passengers behind. During nine years of living and working in Asia I only experienced one crash, in an auto-rickshaw in Kathmandu, which was indirectly my own fault. I was sitting in the back on the way to a restaurant with a new girlfriend, and we couldn’t resist the temptation, in this most romantic setting, to have a kiss. Unfortunately, the driver was too engrossed watching us in his mirror to notice the roadworks ahead, and the auto-rickshaw plunged into a very large crater in the road and tipped upside down. Luckily nobody was hurt and we all had a good laugh over it.
1960s Children’s Tricycle Taxi
26″ from top of saddle to the ground
20 x 1 3/8″ Wheels
Here’s an ideal way for your children to learn the basics of taxi-driving. At shows, steam rallies and displays they can earn extra pocket money transporting other kids around the display area in this tricycle taxi. It’s good exercise and a healthy way to help them to develop a work ethic.
The delightful freewheel tricycle is in good order all round, with two brakes on the front wheel, requiring only new tyres and a service before it’s ready to use.
I lived and worked in Asia for 9 years and, in my spare time, travelled around the area and (yes, you guessed it) spent a lot of my time taking photos of traffic.
The ‘cycle-rickshaw’ photo above is from 1995, in Lhasa, Tibet.