To Pedicabbers Everywhere
When a friend and I began the pedicab business in New York City 30 years ago I named it “Serious Transportation”. Though I am no longer directly involved in the business, I am designing and constructing prototypes of new designs (LightWheels.com) and am also very interested in working to help realize the enormous potential to improve our lives and environments through the expansion of this activity. Now that the use of cargo cycles, which share many features with pedicabs, is exploding everywhere, it is time to pay more attention to what has been largely an expensive tourist-oriented activity but could be so much more.
There are pedicabs in hundreds of cities around the world. In some places, they are a major form of transportation. Unfortunately, many of those in this profession work under very stressful conditions, besides the usual, traffic etc. Each city and country is different and there is tremendous variability in status, income, laws, etc. What is common is the minimal influence that those working in this trade have historically had over their conditions and the fact that improvements have been rare and problems widespread.
It seems time to bring these issues forward in a more effective way. Wide access to inexpensive ways to communicate, through Zoom, etc., suggests the wisdom of beginning a wide-ranging discussion among those in the industry about better ways to assert the value of this activity and methods of using it to benefit both the operators and the general public. Developing the potential of this modality as both a way to improve the transportation system and environment as well as the lives of those engaged in this profession is important and must be done in an open, democratic, and creative way.
I intend to begin this process now and am looking forward to evolving it over time into one that is effective and positive. Since it will involve different people with different priorities and goals, languages, and cultures, I know that this will not be easy, but it is so necessary that I am certain that it will be worth the effort. This industry has many various shapes and practices in different places. This undertaking will not result in a single solution or even one that may contain recommendations that will apply equally everywhere, but bringing more light to the subject will undoubtedly make further conversations easier, with a broader collection of ideas and suggestions for improvement of conditions. The authorities that control this activity in different cities and countries have varied priorities and needs and the operators are in very different conditions, but nowhere is the situation ideal.
The first step here is the creation of an organization whose sole purpose will be the establishment of a medium through which participants may make their presence felt and a way to express themselves while also, hopefully, listening to others. A weekly online forum will be scheduled and a way for those who are interested to check-in. If this turns out to be a modest effort, managing it will not be difficult. If it grows into a full-scale and widespread undertaking, with extensive participation, it will probably have to become differentiated into different languages and forms, but the initial phase will be in English and focused on the United States. Establishing links among those from everywhere who are engaged in this profession can help to demonstrate that problems and potentials are similar in many places and the urgent need for greater influence by those who are making their living this way to be helpful towards others who share their profession.
A website, AMovement.org has been established to help accomplish this task. If you are interested in taking part in this, please visit the site and register your identity, and a way to contact you. Over time you will be informed of discussions and events taking place. This bottom-up effort is intended to provide a voice to those who understand the possibilities here and want to help in realizing the potential of this profession to establish its true value and create the conditions that will allow long overdue improvements to take place.