You may have ridden a tricycle as a toddler, but that's not what the term tricycle refers to in Cebu. The Cebuano tricycle is a motorcycle with an oversized side-car, designed for carrying passengers from residential areas to major thoroughfares, where the passengers can subsequently board a jeep. Unlike the Indonesian becak or the Thai tuk-tuk, the passenger-carrying car is on the side of motorcycle, rather than behind it, making the tricycle almost as wide as a car.

Insanely, passengers will ride not only in the sidecar, but also behind the driver, legs dangling into oncoming traffic. Often the driver will have 3-4 people behind him (in addition to another 4-6 in the sidecar) and be forced to steer his motorcycle while seating far forward on the tank, with the forearms in a vertical position and the elbows sticking out sideways. Incredibly they manage to smoke and banter with passengers while driving like this.

Thousands of tricycles act as feeder lines for the public transportation system, carrying commuters in the mornings and evenings. You can spot them on side roads, forming lines near intersections with major thoroughfares. Although usually far more modest than jeeps - probably due to budgetary limitations - some tricycles are elaborately decorated with designs, slogans, and the names of the driver's 8 kids.

The fare is about 5 pesos per passenger. Technically, the fare increases by 1 peso after five kilometers, but few tricycles travel further than that. Fares are fixed by municipal governments.

Tricycles are barred from entering the main roads; a good thing too, since they make more noise than a 747 in mid-flight.

Trisikads, meanwhile, are bicycles with sidecars. The fare is lower and, needless to say, they are much slower, but they do not wait until full and are silent. As such, you may find them more comfortable than tricycles. Often, trisikads will be in competition with tricycles. More common in rural towns than in Cebu City, trisikads nevertheless form an integral part of the public transportation sytem. In places such as Talisay - a large residential bedtown - passengers may commute via trisikad to the nearest tricycle stand, then take a trike to the main road, board a jeep to the city, and switch jeeps in the city, before boarding another tricycle or trisikad to their final destination.

A group of trisikads may have a monopoly on a route; often, trisikads will form a line near a school, and ferry kids home. It's a neat system; aged laborers make a living - a meager one, but a living nonetheless - hauling 4-6 children per trip, and moms don't have to waste time picking the kids up from school.


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