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From Runner To Chauffeur Through The Years

May 29, 2008
Chauffeur car hire is not a new idea. Even before cars were invented, people wanted others to transport them from A to B. Maybe this stemmed from laziness or lack of time but probably more from the fact that people wanted to show their level of importance and hierarchy.

Other than the traditional horse, early forms of transport included the prequel to the rickshaw - the palanquin. Known colloquially in the UK as a Sedan chair, these were essentially boxes that a single person could sit in. This was then elevated off the ground on two poles that would be lifted by a man at either end. At the time, this was the ultimate level of luxury. No need for men to be draping their capes across puddles, no getting run over by a horse and no ladies wearing out their dress hems.

I doubt this could have been as comfortable as chauffeur car hire is today but at the time it was a much easier nicer option than walking or horseback. I imagine the runners would have found it necessary to get their steps in time to avoid spilling the chair contents and I imagine they would have to be physically very long, particularly if it was necessary to travel long distances. Probably not the best job in the world, whereas today's chauffeur car hire is a much more salubrious job with uniform and comfort.

The Sedan chair then progressed throughout Asia to become the Rickshaw. Originally, this would have been constructed in a similar form to the Sedan chair but it ran on wheels with one runner in front as opposed to the two man option. The wheels would have made this vehicle so much more comfortable than simply having two runners. It would also have been an easier job to do as the runner could go on momentum as well as strength.

There is much debate about where the Rickshaw originates from and also who invented it. The actual name comes from the Japanese word - jinriksha - meaning human strength vehicle. However, there are claims that an American invented it. The Rickshaw is still used quite frequently in New York today.

The first Japanese Rickshaws appeared in Japan in 1868 but have been outlawed in some countries due to congestion and several accidents. It seems quite amazing that they would ban a Rickshaw because of accidents, let allow chauffeur car hire to continue, surely mechanical cars are more dangerous in an accident?

The original Rickshaw then developed further, making the ride much easier for passenger and runner by fixing bicycles to the front. The runner now became a cycler and the speed was picked up further. Today the cities around the world that use Rickshaws normally use ones with motorised engines - a little like a motorbike or motorised cycle. As in all areas of life, everything has to be speeded up and done at double time which makes you wonder why they don't just all use chauffeur car hire.

Around the world today there is a colourful mix of cars, vans and Rickshaws still in use throughout Asia. The Rickshaws will mostly be used by either tourists or the elderly who have no faith in today's modern vehicles. Of course, the modern day Asian businessman will know the benefits of chauffeur car hire and would probably prefer to conduct his business in one of these as opposed to a Rickshaw.
About the Author
Transportation expert Catherine Harvey looks at how chauffeur car hire has developed over the years.
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