London has become celebrated for its embracing of the unusual, for its multiculturalism and it’s willingness to tolerate and love. It’s why people flock here: to see something different, like the craziness of the East End or the rush of advertising on rickshaws. Yet, on the 17th of December, Boris Johnson went against the spirit of the city and declared that vehicles like rickshaws should be banned from the streets of London forever. His arguments were rather lacking though...
His first point is that they clog up the streets. Well, that’s fascinating but not exactly true. The West End and Chinatown are generally full of rickshaws on a busy Friday night, but it’s nothing compared to the bustling streets of the Far East, where three times as many vehicles flitter around the streets carrying people to their destinations, yet no one there seems to mind. In any case, the pavements are hardly full to bursting. If anything, these increased transport links help to relieve the number of people traipsing around, packing the streets and adding the general chaos. Perhaps if the mayor was to provide better public transport links then there wouldn’t be a need for freelancers to step in and fill the gap.
His second is that anyone can become a rickshaw driver, which is rather risky for passengers. Again, his complaint seems to be that of a man who has no power to change anything. If he thinks that unlicensed drivers are a massive problem, which they are, then he can regulate and force changes. It’s true that unregistered drivers are a massive problem, because who knows where they’re taking the passengers? It’s effectively like getting into a stranger’s car. The secret to solving this problem is not to apply a silly blanket ban but to make sure that the same restrictions that apply to other transports apply to them as well. It’s like any field of business, be it banking or rickshaw advertising: regulation allows high standards to be maintained at all times without risking bad service to the public.
His third point is that the vehicles themselves are dangerous. This is perhaps the most ludicrous claim of all. He talks about crashes and about the impact of a solid car vs the frame of a rickshaw, without accounting for the fact that many rickshaws make only the shortest journeys via the roads, and tend to spend most of their time in very low speed limit zones. The risk a car poses to a rickshaw is greatly reduced when one considers that low speed collisions are both rare and relatively light.
Is it really worth banning the colourful fleets that glide so elegantly through the streets at night, the amazing new options that are being opened up by those advertising on rickshaws and using them as low carbon footprint alternatives to the tube and traditional taxis? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to take TFL’s suggestion and make sure that every driver needs to be registered, so that people can still enjoy the pleasures without any of the risks? In the end, that’s for the people of London to decide.
Author Information: Jameson Jacoby used to sell vintage cars for a living. Now he’s pursuing his true passion by writing for a range of websites, blogs and forums. He is the author of article London rickshaw advertising. To know more about his writings Visit Here.
Rickshaws are branded a menace by Boris Johnson