Nepal now has 56 pedicabs; 28 in Kathmandu and 28 in Lumbini. Pedicabs are weird looking half and half non-motorized vehicles that you’ve probably seen around Patan Durbar Square and asked, “What’s that again?” So, here’s the answer:
Pedicabs are modernized rickshaws designed by Colorado-based Catapult Design, in order to “convince Asian cities and entrepreneurs that rickshaws remain a sustainable public transport option and business opportunity.”
They are aluminum made vehicles that are lighter and sturdier than normal rickshaws. Half of the pedicabs are manual (operated through pedal only with gear and brakes) and other half come with the electrical assistance powered by ion battery. They are non-motorized and fuel free.
These vehicles are easier to climb on, compact and light. They also have softer seats and handle bars to hold on to. The only downside is that pedicabs are not allowed on the main road. Pedicabs are still a prototype and do not have registered number plates yet. Without proper number plates, no vehicle is allowed on the main road.
About these half rickshaws – half tempos, Prashanta Khanal, national coordinator of Modernised Pedicab Project says, “Pedicabs can’t replace tempos or micro-vans. But what they can do is connect the customers from bus stops to their doorsteps. These compact and cozy rickshaws will go where other passenger vehicles don’t.”
“When it comes to congestion, the pedicabs that come with an electric-assist can go 25km/hr and the average speed of vehicles in Kathmandu is only 17km/hr these days. Just because these are bicycle-powered doesn’t necessarily mean that they are slow.”
“In the coming 20 years, we need everything from metro-lines and city buses to pedicabs and bicycles. These modes of transport need to co-exist serving the right purpose in the right place.”