Client: Asian Development Bank
Objective: To develop a modern pedicab (a bicycle-powered rickshaw) to improve utility and encourage sustainable transport specification.
Context: Pedicabs are ubiquitous throughout Southeast Asia and have been part of the urban landscape for more than a century. Drivers, however, face many challenges, including the lack of local government support, poor safety standards, and the perception of being antiquated. Despite these barriers, many people rely on them for affordable transport, delivery, and income. To ensure the future of the industry and sustainable transport options, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) tendered the project and Catapult won the opportunity to lead the vehicle design.
Process: Catapult gathered a team of international mobility experts to research prior rickshaw design efforts to then observe and interview rickshaw owners, drivers, and riders in Nepal. The team produced multiple concepts and prototypes, working with our Nepalese contacts as well as vendors in Shanghai. We honed in on a design that was seen as modern by governments and ADB, feasible for manufacturers, and desirable for drivers, passengers, and owners. The first set of 60 units have been assembled in Kathmandu for the launch of a two-month pilot.
Innovation & Impact: Catapult enclosed, geared, and optimized the drivetrain to protect it from the elements and loose clothing. The mid-mounted gears decrease the level of effort required by the driver. The disc brakes and optional electric assist make heavy loads more manageable. The current driver posture and perspective was maintained to limit forced behavior change and maximize safety. The base vehicle design has potential for other applications, such as street vending or courier servicing. The aim was to encourage continued and increased use of the pedicab as a sustainable and effective mode of transportation.