World travelers will be very familiar with the form of the ubiquitous tuk-tuk, the three-wheeled people movers that fill the streets of many of the globe’s biggest cities. They’ve long dominated the roads in India and Southeast Asia and are becoming steadily more popular in South America and Europe as a cheap, smaller alternative to traditional taxis or buses.
Now an entrepreneur down the coast in Charleston is trying to bring them to South Carolina, to ply the historic streets of the state’s Holy City. Unfortunately for Jeff Newton, the Charleston City Council and the city’s police force are dead set against the idea.
The bright, cheerful vehicles would “contribute to a theme-park atmosphere,” Mayor Joe Riley sniffed to the Post and Courier. The City Council, falling in line, has already drafted an ordinance to ban the tuk-tuks by name. Well, if Charleston leaders don’t like the idea, we do.
A few eye-catching tuk-tuks would make a great addition to Myrtle Beach’s downtown and Ocean Boulevard area. While the Coast RTA has become necessary and useful for many of the area’s workers, it has largely failed to catch on among visitors, who haven’t been thrilled about taking the bus to dinner or to the theater. A more festive and novel option could fill that gap, allowing tourists to leave their cars at the hotel while they zip around town.
Beyond offering visitors a new, fun experience, the quiet vehicles are also good for the environment, with zero carbon emissions. While Charleston leaders may not appreciate looking “like Disney,” as Councilman Bill Moody put it, our area should embrace its resort atmosphere.
Do we want tuk-tuks tootling down our highways, getting in the way of drivers? No. But trips up and down the Boulevard or between Broadway at the Beach and oceanfront hotels would be easy enough to contend with. Beyond giving visitors a unique experience to talk about when they return home, they could also offer another alternative for those who might have indulged too much at our local bars, making the streets safer for the rest of us.
In short, they’re appealing, environmentally friendly, safe and fun, just the sort of thing for the Grand Strand. So, Mr. Newton, if Charleston won’t have you and your tuk-tuks, why don’t you try up here?