Friday, September 3, 2010

On rickshaws, segways, Austin, and mules

I’ve been in Austin for a couple of weeks now, and so far I’d say that it’s been mostly like Sinead’s Ex: nothing compares.

It seems like a generally cool place. In particular, we immediately notice that Austin is deeper than most in a couple of key categories: taco trucks, music festivals, pools, farmers’ markets. But I’d already heard about all those before coming down here. What I didn’t know though is that Austin’s crown is also mad heavily laden in two other types of jewels: rickshaws and Segways.

It’s a safer bet than gold to wager that Austin has a higher per capita population of both Rickshaws and Segways than any other city in the United States. (Is it compensation for a less than public transportation system?). I don’t care - what I do care about is the commonality between these two forms of transportation: primarily, that both modes make their passengers look totally ridiculous.

Think first about riding in a rickshaw: taxi’d by manpower? I feel like it is nothing but too close to a birthday girl entrance on My Super Sweet Sixteen. “yo but, manpower transport is romantic in venice”. Yeah, although: being looped around busy ass streets, sharing the carriage with your otherhalf (aw) and the farts of the hipster pedaling you is really not that Venetian Gondolaish. (Aside: when did hipsters take over the rickshaw industry? And is it there counterculture response to the Spinning craze?) Nothing against hipsters, but riding in the back of a rickshaw can never be pulled off casually or stylishly (just like my friend Abe’s permanent chest hair sweater…, which coincidentally is also similar to Sinead’s ex: the hair is as thick as thieves).

The same can be said about Segway ridin’. We’ve all known it to be true – trying to look cool while on a Segway is like trying not to get pregnant: they say the only foolproof method is abstinence. (Has someone made that joke before?)

So here’s what I’m asking. I’ve seen bike-powered and leg-powered (and Kramer-powered) rickshaws. And since Segways were heralded to replace both bikes and legs, when are we going to see the first Segway-drawn rickshaw?

Here's a Texas themed analogy to prove the point: if you keep a lot of horses and donkeys in a pen for long enough, you are eventually going to wind up with mad mules. The same is true for Austin transportation options. When we hold high numbers of two off-the-wall forms of transportation in the same corral - especially a corral that is down for keeping itself weird - we're inevitably going to find ourselves riding in Segway-drawn rickshaws.

Who's going to be first? Ridin' Solo Segway-Rickshaw edition?

Note: Segway I think is actually coming out/came out with something they call the Segway-Rickshaw. This isn't what we're talking about though: it's more like a Segway SmartCar. Check out the impostor here.

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