Mr Payne (Letters, Observer, May 9) is mistaken if he believes the introduction of rickshaws to Chichester will ease the city’s traffic problems and make life easier for people with disabilities.
I have yet to see a wheelchair-accessible rickshaw, or one that could accommodate a mobility scooter. Nor do I know of any rickshaws fitted with a reverse gear, which would be required to extract themselves from the inevitable traffic conflicts they will create.
Mr Payne also anticipates steams of Chichester Festival Theatre goers taking an expensive rickshaw ride in preference to the short walk to many of the nearby restaurants. I wonder how many rickshaw journeys would be taken in inclement winter weather in preference to a warm, dry taxi? Another point worth bearing in mind is that rickshaw peddlers would need to go through the same application and approval process as licenced taxi drivers, and that includes having a full driving licence; something many of the hungry students he envisages plying this archaic trade don’t have.
In any case, why should it be a part of the theatre-going experience for aloof patrons to lord it over a servile underling dragging their weight along by muscle power, when efficient motor transport is readily available? Were it to be proposed that impoverished students should make money by giving people a piggy-back from the theatre into the city centre, the idea would be rightly condemned as exploitative, and would no doubt fail a health and safety audit. I see rickshaws in exactly the same light.
Mr Payne is correct when he mentions that rickshaws operate in London. What he neglects to mention is they are regarded there as a traffic jam causing nuisance, and a law unto themselves. So much so that Boris Johnson is doing his best to ban them. We should learn from London’s experience and not repeat their mistake.
It is far easier to prevent a problem from beginning then it is to remedy it once the issues it creates have become apparent. Those who approved the possibility of rickshaws shaming the city should reverse their decision as a matter of urgency and follow the lead given by Cheltenham council who have recently voted against allowing these throwbacks on their streets