The cycle rickshaw is a small-scale local means of transport; it is also known by a variety of other names such as bike taxi, velotaxi, pedicab, bikecab, cyclo, beca, becak, trisikad, or trishaw.

Becak in Indonesia
Becak in Indonesia

If you visited Java, especially to city like Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Solo, or Jogjakarta, you might find a unique transportation : a carriage with three wheels which been paddled by a men who sit on the back seat. It is called Becak / Beca, a very well-known traditional transportation in Indonesia. The becak is the Indonesian incarnation of the ubiquitous pedicab, or cycle-rickshaw, found everywhere from. But it is Indonesia, and especially Java, that is the true heartland of the pedicab. The becak is as much a motif and symbol of Indonesia as the silhouette of a wayang kulit puppet, or the smell of a clove cigarette. The becak, a three-wheeled pedal-powered bike with a passenger seat, is the descendant of the original hand-pulled rickshaws that originated in Japan in the 19th Century. The design and style varies from city to city, but in Indonesia the passenger sits up front, with an uninterrupted view of the busy streets. Despite the best efforts of municipal government’s becak still provide transport and employment for millions of people across Indonesia. There are hundreds of thousands of becaks in Indonesia, but this was not always the case, and despite their timeless image, they are actually a relatively recent addition to the urban landscape. Before the Second World War becak were virtually unknown. There had been tricycles used for transporting goods for many years, but it was only in 1936 that the first passenger-carrying becak hit the streets of Jakarta. The Dutch authorities took an immediate dislike to the new invention, worrying about safety and congestion, and setting the tone for government attitude to becaks until now. They might have acted to stamp them out altogether, but History intervened.


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