While travelling in Auto Richshaw and when we are not meddling with our smartphones, this question would always pop up.
Either to the left or the right, Auto rickshaw drivers sit on the edge of their seats. Anyone cared to ask them?
Shivin Saxena, as answered this beautifully on Quora
I can’t believe someone actually put this question up! I’m so glad you did!!
About 7-8 years back, when I was still in college, I used to commute a lot in an auto-rickshaw. The fact that they never sat in the middle of the seat, even though the handle bar would be so much more easily controllable if they were seated in the middle, always ALWAYS bugged me.
And so one fine day, I decided that I must have an answer.
I asked a couple of rickshaw drivers the same day why they prefer to sit at the edge vs in the middle. Both of them laughed and then gave me very similar reasons:
1) When they learn to drive a rickshaw, someone is usually seated next to them in the driver’s seat. Thus, from the get-go they kind of get used to driving while sitting at the edge.
2) The intense heat from the engine is another reason why they frequently change their positions. (Note: There are two types of autorickshaws in India. In older versions, the engines were situated below the driver’s seat, while in newer versions engines are located in the rear. So, the engine heat is relevant only to the drivers driving the older rickshaws. Ref: Auto rickshaw)
3) One of them said that as he carries passengers across the city, he almost always sees a friend across the road, in need of a ride and since, he is already comfortable with driving while sitting at the edge, he is more than willing to offer anyone a ride, while not having to continuously change his driving position.
4) Since, you are sitting closer to the edge than in the middle, it’s much faster to
a. Hop out unceremoniously
b. Reach the blow horn that’s usually mounted on the right side of the rickshaw’s frame.
c. Stretch outward and yell swear words or friendly calls at passers by.
So there, mystery solved!