All About Becak Yogya, Makasar dan Medan
One of the feature characteristic of Yogyakarta after it is no longer known as the city of bycicles, is the number of becak and andong that can be seen in almost every street. Becak and andong remains well accepted as a means of daily transport. Becak and andong are quite important as transportation means for areas in the middle of the city where bus service isn’t available.
The government of Yogyakarta had decided to keep becak as a public transportation and also as an attraction point for visiting tourists. All becak are registered and the drivers are given trainings on traffic system and rules, also on language skills so they could communicate with foreign tourists. Nowadays you could see each becak in Yogyakarta has vehicle registration number plates just like motor vehicles such as cars or motorcycle.
Becak in Yogyakarta, like all becak in the island of Java, is a pedal-driven becak with the driver positioned at the back part of becak. The high seated position of the driver is often criticized as it requires extra effort for the driver to pedaled the becak. This critic is ignored because the driver’s high seat is regarded as a typical characteristic of Yogyakarta’s becaks.
The right and left wheel fenders are also a typical characteristic of Yogyakarta’s becak. The fenders are usually decorated with paintings of landscapes and writings in Javanese or in Javanese Hanacaraka letters. The fenders are the only part in Yogyakarta becak that is decorated.
The cabin for Yogyakartan becak passengers could be categorized as spacious. It can accomodate two average sized Indonesians quite comfortably. The cabin cover height is also high enough, so passengers can sit without crouching or lowering their head. In a normal bright day, passengers can also ask the becak driver to put down the cabin’s cover for a better view of the surroundings during the becak ride.
Becak in Makassar is slightly different from becak in Java although both are pedal-driven becak with the driver’s seat at the back of the passenger’s cabin. The cabin of Makassar becak is narrow, it’s not comfortable for more than one passenger. For those who had used becak in other area, especially in Java, Makassar becak would feel too small in comparison.
Just like in Yogyakarta, Makassar becak is maintained by local government as a tourism attraction. The local government and the hospitality & tourism society in Makassar are active in assisting the becak drivers with manner and communication trainings when dealing with costumers or potential costumers.
Makassar becak is built with simple design, looking lightweight and agile. The driver seat position is quite comfortable enabling an easy maneuvre while driving the becak. Usually the becak does not have any extra decoration aside of the colorful paint the becak owner might choose to use.
The cabin top cover of Makassar becak is high enough for the passenger to sit comfortably. Unfortunately, unlike Java becak, the cabin top cover in Makassar becak is permanently welded and cannot be folded down. Despite of this, the passenger can still have a good view of the surroundings. Makassar becak can be found in almost every street. Becak drivers usually spend their time waiting for the consumers by sitting or napping in their becak cabin while talking to other becak drivers.
If you are not in any hurry, becak is the perfect alternative to enjoy the bustling city of Makassar compared to other motor-driven public transportation. On a becak you can feel the soft wind breeze and enjoying every details of the city in a much slower pace.
Medan becak is a unique kind of becak especially for Indonesians who are used to see becaks with the driver seat positioned at the back of the passenger cabin. Medan becak is also pedal-driven becak, but the driver seat is positioned at the side of the passenger cabin. This design is believed to be safer, but has less vehicle stability compared to becak with the driver at the back. It also makes driving more difficult especially when turning left or right.
Medan becak design is adapted from German motorcycle with sidecar combo used in World War II. The shape of the design makes Medan becak is almost as wide as a car, taking a lot of road space.
The passanger cabin of Medan becak is made from wood with the upholstered seat. To decorate, the cabin is usually painted with duco paint and sometimes colorful drawings are made at the back of the cabin. Medan becak cabin top cover is like the ones in Java, which can be folded down.
Aside of pedal-driven becak, Medan also has a lot of becak with engine, usually refered to as motor becak. Becak with engine nowadays are more populer because it can go farther and faster. Aside of that, becak with engine makes going uphill easier, and Medan has a lot of uphill streets.
Becak with engine in Medan is taking after motor becak in Siantar, a city 128 km from Medan. The hilly Siantar had known motor becak since the 1940s. Siantar motor becak usually utilizes big capacity engines from 350 cc to 500 cc. The engines used are usually motorbikes from the WW II era such as BSA, Norton, Triumph, BMW, Jawa and even Harley Davidson. BSA, the british made motorcycles are the most and commonly used. Nowadays Siantar becak is listed as a protected heritage as most Siantar becak has the average age of more than 50 years old.