Friday, February 12, 2010

The Tricycle: A Human Powered Taxi

Ever heard of the Smart car? Of course you have. It’s that tiny two-seater motor vehicle popular in Europe and has been sold in the U.S. in the past few years. Where I grew up, we had our own version of such vehicle, but it was human powered. It was called a tricycle, otherwise known as a pedicab, or phonetically in the native Tausug dialect, a tarasikul, or jokingly since there were no taxis in our town, a taxikul. It consists of a bicycle and a sidecar, plus a headlight and a ringer. Normally, what we consider a tricycle is the three wheeled kids’ toy. In our small town, this is what a tricycle looks like:

It’s supposed to seat two passengers but with small children seated on their parents’ laps, you can have as much as four riders plus the driver. I don’t think you can fit that many people in a Smart car. If it rains, the driver attaches a transparent plastic cover on the front and sides of the vehicle while he remains exposed to the elements. When I was growing up, it used to cost between 15 to 25 centavos for a ride, depending on the distance travelled. Imagine how strong the legs of the driver needed to be to propel that vehicle especially uphill. Their legs were the engines that made the tricycle move, fueled by rice and fish. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an overweight tricycle driver. From what I hear, they use motorcycles now and I don’t know how much the fare is anymore, or if any of the drivers have gotten fat.

Picture used with permission from and courtesy of elementary schoolmate LTG.

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