Friday, June 10, 2011

The Pedicab is My Enemy

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I advocate riding bicycles as an alternative form of transportation to and from your place of work, school or the supermarket.  After all, a US study revealed that 40% of our commutes just fall within a 5 kilometer radius from our homes.  It doesn't matter what type of bike you use, dutch-style bikes, folding bikes or even ol' beater bikes, just ride your bike.

Unless you use a PEDICAB.  Oooohh, I hate pedicabs.

But not all cycle rickshaws.  I think the concept is good and sustainable.  In fact, I enjoy riding the bike taxis of San Francisco and New York, as well as the tricycle rickshaws in Singapore.

The pedicabs I hate are the ones plying the streets of Metro Manila.
Oh, how I hate them.

Allow me to vent my anger.

First, the design.  The configuration of a Philippine Pedicab or Padyak is not favorable to the traffic conditions of Metro Manila or for any city for that matter.  Let me explain.  A regular bike or a Vietnamese Bike Rickshaw can easily be overtaken by a motor vehicle.  But a Philippine Pedicab, no.

Unlike its South East Asian counterparts where the passenger sits behind the driver--making the cycle rickshaw slim, the Philippine Pedicab has the passenger sitting next to the driver--making the vehicle WIDE, almost as wide as a sub-compact car like the Kia Picanto or the Toyota Vios.  Thus, making it harder for other commuters to pass the pedicab when using the same lane.

So if the pedicab is going slow, as it usually is, then it creates a traffic jam behind him because cars and other vehicles can't easily overtake it.

Second, the driver.  I have never encountered a pedicab driver that was courteous, law-abiding and decent looking.

Pedicab drivers here in Manila almost always bike on the wrong side of the street.  Oftentimes, they block the way of vehicles driving in the right direction.

They violate all traffic laws, as if the rules don't apply to them.  They disregard traffic lights and stop signs.  They enter national highways, when they shouldn't.  They bike recklessly, swerving from one lane to the other, endangering the life of their passenger.  And like I said, they ride against the traffic.

When they get into an accident, even if it was their fault, they won't shell out anything.  What they'll do is just scratch their heads and ask for forgiveness.  Sometimes, sila pa ang galit!

What could be more irritating?!

And every chance they get (like during floods when ordinary motor vehicles cannot pass), pedicab drivers take advantage of the situation and charge an arm and a leg.  From what used to be a P20 ride, when it rains, then the fare jumps to P60 or even a hundred pesos.  Abusado.  They're even worse than our taxi drivers.

Third, the sheer number of pedicabs in one area.  There are just too many of them in a single place at any time.  In the street where my office is located there are at least 20 pedicabs lined up.  But only 4 or 5 will be working.  The rest will stay parked and the drivers will convert their pedicabs into their beds.  That's 15 pedicabs taking the parking space of 5 cars.  That's 15 pedicabs with 15 drivers loitering and lingering about the street.

Pedicabs should be regulated, like all common carriers and public utilities. The problem is a typical pedicab association has over 100 members, and each member has a family of 4.  So that's 400 voters per association that City Hall would rather not discomfort by introducing regulation. 


I hate pedicabs.  They give bicyclists and everything that bike commuting stands for a bad name.

So now, whenever I encounter them when walking the streets of Manila, and they harass me with "Boss, pedicab. Boss, pedicab."  I respond to them by saying, "Maglalakad na lang ako." I'd rather walk than give you business.

And I suggest the same to all of you.  Rather than ride a pedicab, why not just walk the rest of the way?

Let's not give these SOBs any income so they all fold up, and we pave the way for our city to have a better system.

And let's not vote for politicians who coddle these law breakers!

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