Rickshaws (or rickshas) are a mode of human-powered transport: a runner draws a two-wheeled cart which seats one or two persons. The word rickshaw came from Asia where they were mainly used as means of transportation for the social elite. In recent times the use of rickshaws has been discouraged or outlawed in many countries due to numerous accidents or concern for the welfare of rickshaw workers.
Runner-pulled rickshaws have mainly been replaced by cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws. The term “rickshaw” is today commonly used for those vehicles as well.
The word “rickshaw” originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha (人力車, 人 jin = human, 力 riki = power or force, 車 sha = vehicle), which literally means “human-powered vehicle”.
Rickshaws were first seen in Japan around 1868, at the beginning of the Meiji Restoration. They soon became a popular mode of transportation, since they were faster than the previously used palanquins (and human labor was considerably cheaper than using horses).