June 2002 Contents
Super Achievers & Success
at Every Alien Door'
Page 2 of 2
THE REINCARNATED RICKSHAW
Unlike bicycle technology, which advanced dramatically in the last decade through the introduction of ultra-lightweight materials, cycle rickshaws have not changed since the 1940s, when ordinary bicycles were welded and bolted to heavy steel and wood chassis-seat configurations.
Pullers of rickshaws toiled in the hot sun for hours to eke out a meagre living and were exposed to intense pollution and dangerous traffic. As a result the mortality rate among pullers has been alarmingly high.
Of the six new models designed so far, two have been put on road --- Rani Ki Palki and Raja Ki Baggi. The remaining prototypes will be introduced in the coming months.
Martignoni quotes research when he says that the bicycle is the most efficient mode of transportation in the world and is at least five times more efficient than any animate or artificial system as it is both pollution-free and highly cost-effective.
"It is unfortunate that several civic authorities are banning the movement of rickshaws in crowded localities in which they prove to be most efficient," says he.
The new rickshaws are being produced in Agra on a very small scale. But very soon the collaborators will be scouting for manufacturers across the country for mass production of these new models, which will further bring down the prices.
The collaborators are also eyeing the export market. Cycle rickshaws; now operating in more than 40 American cities cost over $2000. The manufacturers plan to offer the new vehicles in the US and European market for around $300.
Rickshaw modernisation process is also currently being done in Bangladesh, Indonesia and South Africa. The World Bank is also funding an on-going project in Dhaka, which has more than 750,000 cycle rickshaws.
These high quality vehicles have a use expectancy of almost ten years and the low complexity rate makes them an ideal example of appropriate and relevant technology.
Cycle rickshaws may be slow but they are safe and pollution-free. The designers say that their potential is limitless and are hoping that the new design might bring about a renaissance of a mode of transportation that was almost going extinct.
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