Beijing Pedicab

Beijing Pedicab

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In Beijing today, there are more than 5,000 public buses, about 600 trolley buses, and 60,000 taxis. But they have not fully taken the place of pedicabs. There are over 500,000 registered pedicabs in the Capital City now.

Most pedicabs begin work late at night after regular buses stop. Or they go out early in the morning before the first buses pull out of their terminals. Only a few night buses and taxis share business with the pedicabs during those hours. Slowly and smoothly, the pedicabs ride on the streets, and the passengers really can see the sights.
Therefore, in the day, some tourists would like to take a pedicab. There is another reason why pedicabs are sometimes at a premium. Beijing is an ancient city famous for its vast number of tiny hutong-narrow alleys behind the broad streets and avenues. A taxi seldom bothers to go into these hutong. When it does, the taxi finds the alleys leading nowhere. A pedicab is useful on such occasion. To most pedicab drivers, who were born Beijingers, the hutongs zigzag to every-where. A pedicab is able to take the passenger to places deep in the alleys unmarked on maps.

Pedalling a pedicab is a lucrative job. It attracts many unemployed young people and retired workers. Even a few state factory workers resigned from their jobs and become self-employed drivers, in spite of their ensured salaries and welfare subsidies. They can make a fortune out of pedalling a pedicab. The drivers are usually warm-hearted to-wards their customers. In the early 1950s, there were 100 pedicab ser-vice stations with more than 5,000 drivers, most of them carrying freight. Because of a lack of public buses, pedicabs were once a major means of passenger transport in Beijing too. In 1960s, more than lOOO pedLcab, stations were set up in urban district for round-the-clock service’. Pedicabs were banned as an example of a “man-exploiting-man” phenomenon during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976. Pedicabs were replaced by motorized rickshaws, but they soon were dismissed because of air pollution and noise.

The pedcabs reappeared in the late 1970s and have shown no sign of disappearing from the scene again. Sometimes, people can see that foreign tourists enjoy the city by sitting on pedicabs.

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