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Rickshaw in Tsingtau (1914)
Rickshaw in India (2012)

Rickshaws are small, two-wheeled, human-drawn vehicles for transporting people (so-called walking rickshaws ).


In recent times, rickshaws powered by a bicycle have been built. These companions are called bicycle rickshaws (also: bicycle taxis ). Rickshaws are traditionally used in Asia , but there are also cycle rickshaws in Europe .

In India and many other South and Southeast Asian countries, there are so-called motor or auto rickshaws , which are trikes that are operated with either a two-stroke or a diesel engine.

The hand-drawn rickshaws have almost all disappeared from the streets. In India they are only widespread in Calcutta . Even the non-motorized cycle rickshaws could soon be replaced. According to many politicians, the work of the rickshaw wallahs is inhuman and out of date. They want to promote motorized traffic based on the western model and impose driving bans for the rickshaw wallahs.

In Japan , rickshaws can be found near tourist attractions as a tourist attraction.


The word rickshaw comes from the Japanese term jinrikisha ( 人力車 , jin = human, riki = power or drive, sha = vehicle).


Rickshaws in Japan, late 19th century

The rickshaw is an invention from Japan. The invention was originally intended for Europeans in Tokyo who could not use the narrow Japanese sedan chairs . Egon Erwin Kisch describes the origins of the rickshaw in his book China Secret as follows:

“The Jinriksha comes from Japan, even if its inventor was a European. The man who first came up with the idea of ​​putting a chair on a handcart and using that elevator as public transportation was the Anglican clergyman Reverend MB Bailey, O Blessings of the West and the Church. That happened in Tokyo in the early 1970s [1870s] . "

“A Frenchman named Ménard rushed to China , to Shanghai , to get a rickshaw license. But the city councils of the American and English (later international) as well as the French community knew that replacing animals or machines with human power is the safest business in this country, and did not even think of giving the nimble importer such a profitable monopoly. They decided to issue twenty licenses for twenty rickshaws each , in exchange for considerable taxes . "

“Monsieur Ménard could have been very happy about the fact of getting one of these licenses if, yes, if he had had enough money to have the twenty carts made. He didn't have it, so he had to be content with twelve. That displeased the two city administrations, they wanted every license to be used twenty times in the interests of their tax coffers. On March 31, 1875, they revoked his license, the pioneer of the rickshaws, which today, in the age of taxis, private cars, buses, motorcycles and trams, bring in 267966 Tael from the French concession and 337030 Tael from the International Settlement! "

Vornesitzer traditionally come from Thailand or Indonesia and are called Cyclo or Becak there.

Replicas of classic cycle rickshaws have been around in Germany since 1989. The company Velocab has started and offered the first bicycle rickshaws with gear shift in Germany. There are now other providers who have improved the design and technology. Most providers sell electric motors for their models.

Electric rickshaw

Electric rickshaws in Lumbini , Nepal

In Germany, cycle rickshaws are also considered bicycles with an electric motor and, under certain conditions, are legally classified as pedelecs .

In Switzerland, according to Art. 14 VTS , an electric rickshaw is a two- or multi-wheel vehicle with a drive of no more than 2 kilowatts of power. It can weigh a maximum of 450 kg when loaded and has a maximum design speed of 20 km / h, with pedal assistance 25 km / h. You have to follow the rules for cyclists ( Art. 42 Para. 4 VRV ); in the event of misconduct, the fines in the Ordnungsfussenverordnung (OBV) are the same as those for bicycles. A category B or F driver's license is required to drive rickshaws in Germany ( Art. 4, Paragraph 5 of the VZV ). Such a license is not valid abroad. In contrast to other means of transport, rickshaws do not require a permit for professional passenger transport ( Art. 25 Para. 1 VZV ).

Web links

Commons : Rickshaw  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Rickshaw  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Basil Hall Chamberlain: Things Japanese: being notes on various subjects connected with Japan for the use of travelers and others . K. Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co., Ltd., 1891, pp. 241-242.