Amsterdam is alive with all kinds of interesting green activities, most notably bicycle paths everywhere. Perhaps one of the strangest is the bright-red solar rickshaw.
After spending 2 hours in the city’s reknown Rijksmuseum inspecting the moody landscapes of one of my favorite dutch painters–Jacob Isaaksz van Ruisdael, I needed to head back to my hotel. Parked outside the museum–on sidewalk–was an alleged solar rickshaw. On the top of the bizarre-looking vehicle were several small solar panels. Boy, did this vehicle look suspicious. But what the hell, why not give it a try.
So 3 friends and I climbed into the two seater. The driver, who spoke very good English, said his rig could handle the load. Who was he kidding?
So, for an outrageous number of euros, we piled in. And off we went . . . sort of. We crawled along at a blazing 10 k/hr.
When we came to first bridge up and over a canal, we could hear heavy breathing coming from our driver. As it turns out, our taxi was more human powered than solar. But the driver gamely tried to provide some commentary. He said that he had purchased his rickshaw from an inventor from East Germany. Sure, why not, nothing about this operation seemed remotely plausible.
The taxi went barely fast enough to keep up with the walkers. But the ride provided an excellent opportunity to talk to the locals and tourists who seemed to enjoy seeing 4 people jammed into a space designed for 2 in a vehicle that looked liked it should be Singapore. I found myself continually laughing at the absurdity of situation.
Meanwhile, our rickshaw driver/guide kept trying to talk and peddle at the same time. He was getting increasing short of breath, and panting heavily. If he had been older, I would have worried about him having a heart attack. He was getting seriously winded.
Well, we made it to our hotel, our driver was eventually able to catch his breath, and we were able to get photographs of our solar-powered transportation, or should I say, our human-powered taxi. I’m pretty sure an energy balance would demonstrate the impossibility of this being a real solar-powered vehicle. But who cares, life is an adventure.