Cycle rickshaws struggle as cabs and autos becomes popular

Survival of the fittest? Cycle rickshaws struggles for existence amid popularity of autos and cabs | Sruthi V

Sruthi V

Chennai, Mar 7: His lunch was dependent on the flower seller who transported the flower basket to the market. The flower seller had a smaller load and hence did not want to spend on a rickshaw. Prabhakaran, 44, who is a cycle rickshaw driver for the past 17 years, was devastated.

“People these days are dependent on autos and cabs as most of them are time-bound. This has made our lives difficult as we are not hired for any other jobs due to our age,” said Prabhakaran.

The three cycle rickshaws frequented the streets of Chennai Fort, Sowcarpet and Mint Street. The cycle rickshaws can accommodate three members at a time. Each ride costs around Rs 30 to Rs 50.  There were seven rickshaws but now there are only three. They ride from 9am to 8pm.

Prabhakaran said, “Before the arrival of these autos and cabs, people were dependent on us. There were days when I shelled nearly Rs.1000 a day. Now we could hardly make money for a meal.”


“My entire livelihood is dependent on this. I owned a rickshaw, but someone stole it. Hence I am riding a rented vehicle now.”

Prabhakaran, a cycle rickshaw driver

 “I am diagnosed with epilepsy and hence doctors have advised me to stop riding it. But this is my only source of income as I have to pay the rent for my house as well as the rickshaw,” he added.

The rent of the cycle rickshaw is Rs 50 a day. During the renewal of the Fitness Certificate (FC) of the vehicle, the rider has to pay a portion of the amount or else the vehicle would be given on rent to someone else.

“My entire livelihood is dependent on this. I owned a rickshaw, but someone stole it. Hence I am riding a rented vehicle now,” said Prabhakaran.

“North Indians are our frequent riders. They ride on our rickshaws even when there are several autos decked in front of them. They play a major role in our existence,” Prabhakaran said with a smile.

Prabhakaran treats his vehicle as his extended family as it helps him earn his bread and also provides him shelter. As his health deteriorates, he finds it difficult to pedal all day. But he denies quitting his job as he has been doing it for the past 17 years.

According to the Times of India report, few people prefer this mode of transport in other parts of the city. Many people feel cycle rickshaws should be banned as it is an inhumane practice as the drivers are often aged m en. Several cities in India have also called for a ban on then. Several cities in India have also called for a ban on these vehicles as they are slow and often cause traffic congestion. However, other people feel that cycle rickshaws should be encouraged as they are eco-friendly and consume no fuel. 

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