While in Beijing, you will see motorcycle taxis zipping through the bicycle lanes. This modern day evolution of the historic rickshaws is a quick and economical way for the Chinese to travel around their local Beijing districts.
These people haulers are motorbikes with an enclosed cab mounted on them. They have 3 wheels, and would be better described as motor-tricycles. The cab encloses the driver with a little side door to allow entry to the driver’s seat, and it also has a compartment in the back for passengers. Passengers enter through a rear facing door.
They scoot along in the bike lanes that are typically on the outside of the auto traffic lanes. Their narrowness allows them to share those lanes with other motorcycles and human powered bicycles.
In this video, you will see one in operation. You get the feel for the size and speed of this little marvel. And yes, there is a passenger in the back.
How many passengers can they handle, you might ask? I have seen one motorcycle taxi with a mother and 2 small children in the back. I might be able to squeeze my 6’3” overweight frame in the back of one, but it would be a tight squeeze. That is on my list of things to do during my next trip to Beijing.
These things are great when you only have a few blocks to go. I would think they are especially desired during a rain storm. Their ability to outpace cars stuck in traffic on the motorways is a big advantage.
Now, don’t freak out on me. There are still real bicycle rickshaws for tourists to ride. That is mainly for tourists, though. The everyday Chinese person that needs to pop over to the neighbors a few blocks away is going to use the modern motorized version.
This is not just a China thing. Most countries in the developing world have some version of this. These are also called “tuk tuks” in India and elsewhere in Asia. You can even get an all electric version built in the United States.
Here is information from Wikipedia on the different variations used around the world for Auto Rickshaws.
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