The first cycle rickshaws were built in the 1880s, and they were first used widely in 1929 in Singapore. Six years later they outnumbered pulled rickshaws. By 1950 cycle rickshaws were found in every south and east Asian country. By the late 1980s there were an estimated 4 million cycle rickshaws in the world.
The vehicle is generally pedal-driven by a driver, though some are equipped with an electric motor to assist the driver.
The vehicle is usually a tricycle, though some quadracycle models exist, and some bicycles with trailers are configured as cycle rickshaws. Some cycle rickshaws have gas or electric motors
A rickshaw originally denoted a two or three-wheeled passenger cart, now known as a pulled rickshaw, which is generally pulled by one man carrying one passenger. The first known use of the term was in 1879. Over time, cycle rickshaws (also known as pedicabs or trishaws), auto rickshaws, and electric rickshaws were invented, and have replaced the original pulled rickshaws, with a few exceptions for their use in tourism.
Pulled rickshaws created a popular form of transportation, and a source of employment for male laborers, within Asian cities in the 19th century. Their appearance was related to newly acquired knowledge of ball-bearing systems. Their popularity declined as cars, trains and other forms of transportation became widely available.
The advantages of rickshaws:
Given the crowded conditions of Dhaka's roads, when total trip time is considered, motorized transports have little advantage in speed over non-motorized. In addition, unlike motorized vehicles, when rickshaws are caught in traffic jams they emit no air pollution, waste no fuel, and make no noise.
Rickshaws provide the most efficient way to move people or goods to a short to medium distance. According to UN-ESCAP, 70% of travel in Dhaka are under 2 kilometers. For such travels, walking, cycling, and rickshaws are very appropriate, as they waste no fuel, create no air or noise pollution, and take very little time. It is a waste to use a car for such a short distance, and the waiting time for buses makes the trip potentially longer than it would by rickshaw or other means.
The best transport for women, small children and the elderly is rickshaws. When rickshaws are banned, it is these groups who suffer the most. In addition, many poor people earn their living by pedalling rickshaws.
This benefits not only the pullers, but their families as a whole. One survey shows that 5 million people throughout the country are dependent on rickshaws for their livelihood.
"The service is considered worthy of support. The operators are operating in a professional manner and seek to work with the council to ensure a minimum of traffic disruption."
The council's transport and traffic committee had agreed that a letter be sent to the Department of Transport.
Committee chairman Sean Kenny said that, at the moment, ecocabs are free and there is no regulation involved.
Cllr Kenny (Lab) said they are privately operated and make money through commercial sponsorship.