London’s transport system could be boosted and its congestion eased with the introduction of a futuristic rickshaw service, according to an automotive design student’s twenty-first century vision for the city.
Coventry University student Sherazam Tiwana, 22, has come up with a concept for an electric-powered three-seater rickshaw that would form part of the Transport for London (TFL) network, accepting Oyster card and operating throughout the city’s six zones.
Sherazam, who created the concept for his final year automotive design project, was inspired by the popularity of the rickshaw in his home country of Pakistan, and by the flexibility afforded by its ability to offer commuters a bespoke drop-off location – a service which would pitch it into direct competition with the famous Coventry-built black cabs.
The London rickshaw’s advantage would be its relatively small size, light weight and low running cost, which – if supported by the government in the same way as other TFL services – could help keep prices down for the commuter.
Despite its compact dimensions, Sherazam’s rickshaw concept would accommodate a wheelchair user, and would have coloured LEDs in the wheels to indicate if it was free. Other features include a hydrophobic plexiglass windscreen to repel rainwater, and a dedicated app which could call a rickshaw to a GPS location.
Sherazam believes that if the rickshaw was subject to industry standard automotive regulations and design processes – which they rarely are in developing nations – it would create a safe, convenient and affordable transport service for London.
Currently there are around 650 rickshaws – or pedicabs as they are often known – operating in London, a number which has stabilised having fallen from over a thousand in recent years. The pedicab industry is not regulated.
Sherazam, who graduates in November and is currently looking for a job which will give him the opportunity to use his transport design talents, said:
“I love the idea of a high-quality rickshaw service being successfully adapted to work in a major city like London, and I really believe that with funding and support from the right organisations it is a concept that would take off in a big way.
“Rickshaws are hugely popular in developing nations, including in my home city of Lahore, but it’s tempting to think of them simply as tourist attractions in London. That wouldn’t be the case if a polished product built to the appropriate automotive standards was introduced. People are increasingly conscious of carbon emissions and would appreciate the flexibility that rickshaws offer. My concept would be safer than bicycles and smaller and more agile than taxis, so they would be the perfect compromise to ease congestion on the streets of London.”
Sherazam’s London rickshaw concept is currently being exhibited in Milton Keynes at the headquarters of the government-backed Transport Systems Catapult, which is run by Innovate UK and exists to promote research and development around intelligent mobility.