PEDAL-LIFE AT LUCKNOW
In the polluted lanes and by lanes, some men do the thankless, back-breaking job of ferrying passengers, drawing on the last reserves of strength of their bodies and the rickshaws, in a losing race with modern means of transport. Most of them do not even own the rickshaws they ply and have to pay rent. Bhola of Lucknow, who was once a beggar, earns about Rs.250 a day, but Rs.40 of it goes towards the rent of the rickshaw. At night, Bhola stretches out on a tarpaulin sheet on the pavement, his home for the night.
Once these men and their cycle rickshaws were the undisputed purveyors of men and material through the arteries of towns and cities. Now, it’s a poor man’s job. Planners and policy makers continue to see rickshaws as a nuisance on city streets, seeking to either control their numbers or ban them. They are often seen as irritants hampering the smooth flow of traffic. A misfit in the smart, global cities of today. The contribution of rickshaws to urban mobility is under-estimated. Despite the excitement about metro rail systems and flyovers, rickshaws somehow retain a place.