Tricycles in Macau
By Wendy Vong
Have you ever ridden on tricycles in Macau? Tricycle was considered as one of the most special transportations in Macau fifty years ago. According to the government information, it was first imported to Macau in 1951. It has already existed in Macau for more than 50 years, and has once become popular.
Since it required only manpower, tricycles transportation attracted only strong youngsters and unemployed workers to engage in this job. Renting a tricycle was cheap, only two patacas per day, and the profit was more than 10 patacas per day, which was fivefold of the rent. Therefore, at first, it was really an attractive career as it did not require any special skill or knowledge. What they needed was strength to take tourists around; the additional tasks they might take on was to serve as a tour guide to introduce famous sites to the tourists and tell them stories about the famous sites during the ride.
Moreover,, Macau was a small village and traveling around by tricycles was cheap, it was a popular form of transport for visitors to travel around Macau, and even for Macau residents to go from one place to another. In addition, the tricycles were mainly located around casinos and famous sites; therefore, it attracted so many tourists to try.
Later, the number of tricycles had increased from dozens to hundreds during the first few years since it was imported; and had become the major transportation. Tricycles then replaced rickshaws and brought about a new image of Macau to other places.
The invention of tricycles is derived from the structure of bicycles, which will move by rotating the pedal by feet. However, tricycle has two back wheels in order to save more energy for cart drivers when they are pulling the tricycles. Furthermore, the appearance of the tricycles, brakes, shock absorbers are greatly improved. Also, in order to prevent from sunshine and rain, calashes are also added.
However, due to the fast development of Macau, tricycles are gradually eliminated because it costs a passenger at least 100 patacas traveling from Hotel Lisboa to San Ma Lo, but by taxi, it is only at most 20 patacas, which is far cheaper. Moreover, passengers have to breathe in polluted air during the ride; even for cart drivers, they are breathing in polluted air every day. Also, most of the tricycles nowadays are old and worn-out; passengers are not feeling comfortable anymore when riding on them; and if they are holding luggage with them, it will give a lot more burden to those weak and grizzled cart drivers. Not many Macau residents are interested in this old type of transportation anymore as well. And in this fast-paced world, time is money. However, riding on tricycles is too slow for them.
Since not many places have tricycles nowadays, they only attract to tourists who have never tried them before. Additionally, as fewer and fewer people ride on tricycles, cart drivers can only earn around 1000 patacas per month; moreover, it is such a tough job since they are too old to work in rainy days or sunny days carrying passengers around. Maybe it was an easy task for them 50 years ago, but not now.
The introduction of buses and taxis really brought about a decline of tricycles and a decreasing number of tricycles. Though it is no longer the major and characteristic transportation in Macau, still tricycle remains as a classic tradition in Macau right now.