eliot & drew bike through india for 3 months, trying to inconspicuously do some good in the world.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Spotlight On: The Infamous Auto-Rickshaw

If you've ever been to any South Asian city, no doubt you've seen (or ridden inside) an AUTO RICKSHAW, or Tut-Tut. These little buggers make up a considerable amount of the mobility in most Indian cities, as they are essentially tiny taxis that ferry citizens from here to there with the greatest of ease. They have three wheels attached to a scooter engine and the body of a Tilt-A-Whirl cabin - awesome! They seat about 3 people + the driver (though you can often see whole families or a gaggle of school children stuffed inside the cabin, with a couple of daring souls hanging on to the side as they deftly navigate the "treacherous" streets of the city.

Though most traffic patterns in India would seem like a royal cluster-muck to the Western eye, locals of India refer to it with pride as a representation of the "orchestrated chaos" that defines the way the country works. From government to markets to travel to whatever, the country seems like it is constantly on the brink of self-destruction, but really everyone is working with a little bit of give and take to make it through. And, in the end, everything works out OK. Snakes be damned, Drew and I hope that the idea of this ordered chaos will carry us through, as well. Please no snakes. Oh God.

On the Rickshaw front, a Dutch company called Enviu is pushing for a movement to make hybrid Tut-Tuts, to battle the intense amount of junk these little buzzers puff out into the air. This company, whose other accolades include creating a dance floor that generates energy when people boogie on it called sustainable dance club (genius), is looking to reduce Rickshaw emissions and get drivers paid a bit more, as they typically make about 3-4$ US per day. Working with experts in Hyderabad and Bangalore, they've deduced that if they convert a million rickshaws, they can reduce the pollution of those zingers 40-60%, and boost the income of the drivers by about 30%. They're hoping this incentive program will catch on soon and be a mutual boon for both the company and the rickshaw operators themselves, not to mention the AIR (cough, cough). Meanwhile, some cities such as New Delhi have converted their autos to Clean Natural Gas, which Drew and I unfortunately produce at an alarming rate.

Stay tuned in the coming months, and you may witness video of this Daring Duo Dubiously Defying Death whilst Driving Down Delhi's Dangerous Downtown DDDDDDDDDDDDDDD.....Streets!!! Shazam!

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