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Rickshaw Pullers and the Cycle of Unsustainability in Dhaka City

M. Maksudur Rahman and Md. Assadekjaman

Rickshaw pullers are key to sustaining urban mobility in Dhaka city. Yet they are among the most marginalized members of society. Pullers live in precarious urban environments and struggle to rise out of a chronic poverty trap. In their work they face the daily challenges of restrictions on their activities, harassment from passengers and the traffic police, traffic jams and accidents. This article explores the factors which contribute to the unsustainable lifestyles of rickshaw pullers in Dhaka city. It suggests that rickshaw pullers might be supported better through licenses, economic incentives, and by prioritizing their contribution to improving Dhaka's traffic system.

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Gendered Experiences of Mobility

Travel Behavior of Middle-class Women in Dhaka City

Shahnaz Huq-Hussain and Umme Habiba

This article examines the travel behavior of middle-class women in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh and one of the world's largest and most densely populated cities. In particular, we focus on women's use of non-motorized rickshaws to understand the constraints on mobility for women in Dhaka. Primary research, in the form of an empirical study that surveyed women in six neighborhoods of Dhaka, underpins our findings. Our quantitative and qualitative data presents a detailed picture of women's mobility through the city. We argue that although over 75 percent of women surveyed chose the rickshaw as their main vehicle for travel, they did so within a complex framework of limited transport options. Women's mobility patterns have been further complicated by government action to decrease congestion by banning rickshaws from major roads in the city. Our article highlights the constraints on mobility that middle-class women in Dhaka face including inadequate services, poorly maintained roads, adverse weather conditions, safety and security issues, and the difficulty of confronting traditional views of women in public arenas.

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Art on the Move

Rickshaw Painters in Bangladesh

Gopa Samanta

Art in the form of decorating rickshaws, a very popular mode of mobility in Bangladesh, especially in Dhaka city, was developed in the 1950s to make the rickshaw more popular so that it could compete with the horse-drawn “tomtom.” Syed Ahmed Hossain, a rickshaw artist more commonly known in Dhaka as Ahmed, was a small boy then, living in a small house located on a narrow by-lane of old Dhaka city. He used to draw things on his school copy book with a small eroded pencil. Ahmed never had any formal training in painting because his father could not afford that. By the time Ahmed grew up, however, there was a growing demand for people who could decorate rickshaws and Ahmed found that job suitable to earn a livelihood for his family.