Urban Velo

Help Bring Pedicabs to Sheffield

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By completing this very short survey (it literally takes just a few seconds), you can help vert-i-go bring a fleet of pedicabs to downtown Sheffield, England. The co-operative organization hopes to help people reduce their impact on the environment through sustainable transport. For more information, visit vert-i-go.co.uk.

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20 Comments

  1. AnonDecember 13, 2007 at 2:38 am

    I faked my way through it.

    As a resident of Seattle, let me tell you, a free transit service in a core downtown area is a bad idea. Hobos will require a wheel chair ramp to load on their big bag of trash. Beep beep beep beep down it goes beep beep beep the hobo is on. Then the bus rolls 1 or maybe 2 stops if you’re lucky. Wheelchair ramp time beep beep beep beep. Off goes the smelly bum and his trash.

    A trivial fee would prevent this. You can afford a dollar. Spend it on transit police. A wino would rather spend it on booze than abusing public transit.

  2. CressersDecember 13, 2007 at 4:37 am

    NO NO NO! I’ve nothing against people pedalling themselves around, but am vehmently opposed to those symbols of third world poverty and exploitation appearing on the streets of a so-called ‘developed’ nation.

  3. steelcitybikenutterDecember 13, 2007 at 8:28 am

    These guys can hardley pull themselves along let alone a pedicab full of sheffield fatties, add to that fact that sheffield is built on 7 very big hills. Good luck boys, your gonna need it.

  4. jugsterUKDecember 13, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    They’ll need thighs of steel (Sheffield steel) to pedal a fully loaded pedicab up some of them thar big hills in Sheffield – it’s a reet propa tarn!

  5. kjohnnytarrDecember 13, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    I’m surprised at some of these comments; If someone thinks they’ve got a viable business plan to put more areses on a seat without emissions (for free, no less), and if they thing they’ve got the quads, more power to ‘em.

    I don’t appreciate being told that my profession should be confined to the “third world,” by the way.

  6. robbieDecember 14, 2007 at 6:05 am

    Hmmm gotta agree. Me and the Mrs tried to get one back to our hotel in Edinburgh once. Despite it being in the city centre we were told ‘sorry mate I don’t go that way’ I suspect due to the hill. A novel way to get about town after a few beers but I’m not sure it’s a particually viable business. Sorry.

  7. CressersDecember 14, 2007 at 6:37 am

    If you want to make a go of it and it is truly your decision to do so that is up to you. But in the UK most rickshaws are hired out to people on the margins of society who make very little from their labour. Where will it end? ‘workfare’ programmes for the unemployed being forced into rickshaw pedalling? Are humans to be reduced to being draft animals?

  8. Urban JeffDecember 14, 2007 at 12:22 pmAuthor

    Here in the States, pedicabbers seem to make decent money. At least according to Kat.

  9. TheloneliestmonkDecember 14, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Cressers — I’m curious, do you extend your feelings to *all* manual labor, or do you view pedicab driving a particularly demeaning job? Washing dishes, laundering, cleaning houses, agricultural harvesting, do these type of jobs meet with your approval? Shall recycling stations be shut down because they encourage people on the margins to hunt through trash and you find that kind of behavior demeaning?

    While I share your concern that people, children in particular, not be exploited, I find it patronizing to treat adults, who are attempting to bootstrap themselves, like children that need to rely on the “better” judgment of the well off about whats best for them.

  10. jugsterUKDecember 15, 2007 at 3:05 am

    Yep if they’ve got the legs then all power to them, I was just saying Sheffield is very hilly (I had done the survey in the positive too).

    I can’t see how introducing human-powered transport can be a bad thing, in the West End of London there’s hundreds of them and they look like they make a decent living transporting all those theatre goers and shoppers with plenty of readies to spend. What’s more the pilots look like they’re having fun too, I can think of much worse ways to make a living. So good luck vert-i-go. :-)

  11. CressersDecember 15, 2007 at 4:45 am

    The issue is whether the economic relationship involved in rickshaw pedalling is equitable and consensual. Put it this way; would you find it acceptable for someone to carry someone else who would be considered economically superior, around on their back, or on a sedan chair for money? Yes I do consider rickshaws (let us not use the euphemistic pedicab) to be demeaning. I wonder how long it would be before it was considered a status symbol by the exploiting classes to have a driver in service?

  12. kjohnnytarrDecember 15, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Pedicabbing isn’t demeaning at all. My passengers never try to belittle me or make me feel lesser because of my work. If anything, most of them seem jealous, because they don’t think they could do it. I’ve made good friends with several people who got into my cab.

    I guess I just don’t feel ashamed to work for my money, and I’m sorry you think I should.

  13. TheloneliestmonkDecember 15, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    “in the UK most rickshaws are hired out to people on the margins of society who make very little from their labour”

    I’m not sure where you got your information Cressers, I assume from your own observations, but this particular project is a co-op. I would think you would support the idea of the drivers not being exploited by an employer who profits from the driver’s labor.

    “Where will it end? ‘workfare’ programmes for the unemployed being forced into rickshaw pedalling?”

    This is perhaps the worst slippery slope argument I have ever heard. And that’s no small feat considering “defense of marriage” advocates would have us believe that extending equal rights to homosexuals will inevitably lead to legalized bestiality. I will give you points though, jumping from a worker owned and operated collective to a gulag does show imagination.

    “Are humans to be reduced to being draft animals?”

    I find this to be incredibly patronizing to the drivers of cycle-richshaws/bugbugs/cyclos/pedicabs/velotaxis/trishaws (whatever you want to call them). It is honest work and comparing those who do it to animals is condescending and way off base — draft animals do not have a choice in how they earn a living.

    “The issue is whether the economic relationship involved in rickshaw pedalling is equitable and consensual.”

    As for consensual, I would point out again that the drivers are not being forced to join the co-op. And with regard to the equitability, the workers themselves would seem to be the best people to decide what compensation they deem fair.

    “would you find it acceptable for someone to carry someone else who would be considered economically superior, around on their back, or on a sedan chair for money?”

    Cressers you really topped yourself here, this analogy is even more ridiculous than your pedicabs will lead to forced labor argument. But I do find your choice of language telling. It would seem that you feel the those who ride in pedicabs feel superior to those who drive pedicabs. I think this says more about you than about the actual dynamics of the situation. Tell me, do you feel superior to the “server” when you give them your “order”?

    “Yes I do consider rickshaws (let us not use the euphemistic pedicab) to be demeaning.”

    This is really the crux of our disagreement. Pedicab is not only NOT demeaning but it is not a euphemism. On the other hand referring to the pedicabs being proposed in England as rickshaws is a form of Orientalism and carries a whiff of colonialism.

    “I wonder how long it would be before it was considered a status symbol by the exploiting classes to have a driver in service?”

    Exploiting classes? Uh… well comrade, as status symbols go, I don’t think a personal pedicab driver could really hold a candle to, say, the crew these swine exploit to man their private yaughts. And frankly, if it meant that these economically superior exploiters kept their limo parked in their palatial garages more often, I’d be all for it.

  14. TheloneliestmonkDecember 15, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    (I was bored)

  15. NickDecember 16, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you all for your comments. We really do appreciate the feedback. But in response to the ‘hill’ issue, we aim to use a pedicab with a pedal-assist unit, which will pull a 350kg load up a 20% gradient, that’s some workhorse. Furthermore, the riders we aim to use will be extremely fit and strong, already ride fixed-wheel bikes, have worked as cycle messengers in the past, and will try their best to cope with Sheffield’s many hills. njo

  16. IanDecember 17, 2007 at 11:43 am

    West End of London can be a nightmare, but the council of Westminster are due to help legislate the industry and improve the situation for workers and for the public. It’s a young industry and is learning how to manage itself – equilibrium will follow.

    As for the guys in Sheffield, I know them will and part of the goal of their business is to be ethical and fair – exploitation and undervaluing of staff simply wont be taking place.

    Good luck vert-i-go.

  17. CressersDecember 18, 2007 at 4:19 am

    You shouldn’t allow your enthusiasm for cyling and green issues in general to blind you to the deeper issues involved. After all, wasn’t bejing in the late 20th century a utopia? It was full of cyclists! Ah, we all know better don’t we? As with biofuels and carbon trading, what seems superficially to be a Good Thing may have unforseen side effects. We’ll just have to agree to differ on this issue but in any case I feel the debate will be moot. Given the recent run of bad weather here in the UK I think that most people, given the choice, would choose the flexibilty, convienence, and efficency of the public transport system in Sheffield ove rthe exposed, squalid, slowness of the rickshaw, power-assisted or not. (Power-assisted rickshaw, what an oxymoron! And just where does the power come from? One of the nearby northern nuclear reactors?)

    And isn’t it ironic that as this vile form of transport is seeping into the UK, Delhi is clearing the rickshaws and tuk-tuks out of its city centre in favour of electric buses? Proof I suppose of the African saying that “Progress does not always go in a forward direction”.

    I’ve said all that I need to, so shut up slaves and get pedalling!

  18. IanDecember 18, 2007 at 10:48 am

    I believe that vert-i-go are aiming to create as much energy as possible from renewable sources for power-assist. In comparison to black cabs, they will be a breath of fresh air.

  19. tanJuly 20, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    hi im a taxi driver and i can tel u 1 thing that the coucils wnt be happy with that,and like people are saying there are too many hills.thanks

  20. Richard GouldbournDecember 23, 2008 at 3:08 am

    This is old now, and i hear pedicabs have made it to sheffield. FANTASTIC. I am from sheffield but currently live in Edinburgh as a pedicab rider. All the negative comments above are not problems experienced by happy drivers and happy customers. If you insist on thinking its demeaning in anyway to cycle a bike around with punters in the back thats up to you. I just can’t see how its a productive thought for anyone. As for the abundance of hills in sheffield. The majority of the bars are at the top of one, and the clubs at the bottom. This hill is a good tool for doing quick lifts. As for going uphills, who says you have to be loaded?

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