Auto-rickshaws soon in UK’s ‘Little India’

Auto-rickshaws soon in UK’s ‘Little India’

London: Rickshaw, the popular mode of transport in India, will soon ply the streets of the East Midlands town of Leicester, better known as ‘Little India´.

The vehicle will be mainly run as a cycle-rickshaw but will have a motor back-up, according to Egocabs, the company that is introducing 15 of them in 2009.

Rides will be offered to shoppers and tourists free as the rickshaws will be sponsored by companies which will have their logos displayed on the sides.

Similar rickshaws were introduced in the sea-side town of Brighton last year and in parts of London but there were some protests from taxi companies and other on the ground that the rickshaws did not meet road safety standards.

However, so far the move has met with some enthusiasm in Leicester and the City Council said that it was in favour of such a scheme as the town has a large population of Indian origin.

Cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Patrick Kitterick said: “I would be quite keen to see a rickshaw scheme in the city. It would promote cycling and be a good way of transporting people around the city centre."

Egocabs said that five autorickshaws will be introduced in the town by February and 10 more by Christmas 2009. The company said it was in talks with the council to get permanent stops in the city centre.

Company director Paul Grundy said: “It will make it easier and more fun for people to travel around the city centre. We would like permanent stops because previously people weren’t sure where they could pick one up."

“We would also be able to drop people off where they liked in the city centre but not pick up everywhere. It will be free as we will rely on advertising, so passengers can just sit back and enjoy the ride," Grundy said.

James Bancroft, development manager for City Watch, a business development organisation, said: “City Watch fully supports Egocabs and the vital role the rickshaws will play within the city of Leicester, not just helping people commute but also helping in crime prevention."

“It is hoped each egocab will have a radio link to all the retailers and leisure venues that are part of City Watch as well as the police and city council CCTV control room," Bancroft said.

A similar attempt to introduce rickshaws in the town in 2007 had failed after it was decided that having only two autorickshaws did not have an impact.