A WorldHum piece by Michael Yessis links to a Calvin Trillin article about the proposed abolition of rickshaws in Kolkata (Calcutta), clearly referring to hand-drawn rickshaws as opposed to cycle- or auto-rickshaws. Trillin quotes the mayor as saying that it's offensive to see “one man sweating and straining to pull another man.”
I had to add this comment:
Indian planners that I’ve talked with worry a lot about the diversity of speeds among the vehicles on the street. This tension among vehicles with different speeds is the source of much of the endless jostling and honking of Indian traffic. I suspect that behind the noble sentiments about human dignity is a desire to eliminate the only vehicle on the road that occupies most of a lane-width but moves at the top speed of a pedestrian.
(Slow bicycles are a little more tolerable, from this point of view, because they take less width, and in any case bicycles are too numerous to be banned even if they wanted to. In fact, it says something about the impenetrability of India that we haven’t seen more communication between western urban bicycle activists and the downtrodden men who ride old bicycles in the tense and shifting margins of Indian major streets, being honked at from all sides.)
That’s not to judge the decision one way or the other, but just to point out a key dimension to it that Trillin may have missed.