Fuel Crisis a Boon for Rickshaw Business

Banned in some areas, the throwback vehicle attempts a comeback
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2008 5:32 PM CDT
Rickshaw pullers cover themselves with plastic during the rainfall in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – New Delhi had fallen out of love with rickshaws. Here, as in many modernizing Asian capitals, the bicycle-drawn cabs are seen as embarrassing, street-clogging third-world throwbacks. They’ve even been banned from the city’s older, walled section—but with gas at $7 a gallon, rickshaw peddlers are touting their services once again. “We don’t even pollute," one cyclist said. "We should be allowed to survive.”

One international nonprofit agrees, challenging the ban in India’s Supreme Court. “We must save the cycle rickshaw drivers. Look at the soaring fuel prices,” says the program’s director. “But unfortunately, when the whole world is talking about the environment, we in South Asia are talking about ‘development.’ We somehow think we are better if we have hordes of swanky cars.”