People Power: Rickshaws on Vine Street
Cincinnati City Council last week approved a plan to establish a six-mile rickshaw route from downtown to University Heights.
The rickshaws will replace a $200 million streetcar plan previously approved by council. The city failed to win federal funding for the streetcars, derided in a congressional debate as “typical Cincinnati – reaching back 50 years for a path to the future.”
The Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) proposed the rickshaw line, saying it will promote multi-culturalism and attract upper-income residents to Over-the-Rhine.
“People will enjoy being transported on rickshaws, and they’ll enjoy watching them, go by,” says 3CDC President Stephen Leeper. “They have a certain charm that cars don’t have – not to mention reduced emissions, so this is a green project, too.”
Council approved an ordinance requiring homeless people to pull rickshaws in order to qualify to stay at emergency shelters, eat at soup kitchens or receive treatment at city clinics.
The city will pay $100 million to 3CDC to provide and maintain a fleet of 30 rickshaws and to train and supervise the pullers.
City Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz said the contract will save taxpayers money by keeping homeless people trim, thereby reducing long-term health-care costs.
“This is the first fiscally responsible action we as a council have ever taken,” Ghiz said.