You might have seen them while holidaying in any number of Asian cities, but the iconic rickshaw could soon be a common sight in Melbourne’s CBD.
As debate rages over the virtues of the Napthine Government’s East-West Link, two Melbournites have launched a company that they hope will help commuters deal with the city’s increasingly congested roads.
The new business, called ‘Bike Cabs’, is the creation of designer and RMIT lecturer Tim Collins, and New Zealand-born designer Jesse Badger.
The pair have applied to the city of Melbourne for a licence to run as many as 12 of the pedal-and-electric powered cabs, although intending to launch with just four.
The focus of the service is on short trips for one to two passengers, those often left stranded by cab drivers unwilling to accept low-paying fares.
“Taxi drivers often dislike short-trip fares. I think most people will agree that industry could definitely do with some more competition,” Collins said in a video promoting the service.
The environmental benefits and potential tourist appeal of the 'rickshaw-cabs' are seen as central benefits of the proposed service.
“Our bikes are powered by fit and healthy riders instead of fossil fuel. They're also equipped with small electric motors to help our riders climb steep hills, and for long hauls with multiple passengers.
The lithium batteries required to power these motors are recharged using green renewable energy sources.”
Collins hopes to maintain Bike Cab ranks in the CBD, in areas around the north, centre, south, east and west of the city centre.
Using the Bike Cab service would incur a $5 flag-fall, with the trip then charged at $2.50 per kilometre. Also to be offered should the proposal be approved will be $30 half-hour tours of the city.
The Bike Cab business is no sure thing at this stage, however, with the pair currently working to build the funds needed for at least four of the $6000 rickshaw-style bikes.
To get it over the line - and to test the appeal of the business model - Collins and Badger have launched a campaign on crowd-funding website Pozible.com.
Those interested in the project can head to http://pozi.be/melbournebikecabs to learn more, or to pledge funds towards its success.