A three-wheeled vehicle, most commonly a pedal cycle. Developed as a more staid and gentlemanly form of locomotion than the bicycle in the late 19th century, but mostly died out as a form of adult transport on the entirely reasonable grounds that they offer negligible advantages over their two-wheeled counterparts in return for considerable increases in mechanical complexity, rolling and wind resistance, storage space and road room, and because they are actually rather harder to ride and less stable than a bicycle at any speed over about 4 mph.

Since then, upright tricycles have been a refuge of the determinedly unconventional (hey, even bicyclists are still considered as enough of a joke in most English-speaking countries) and people with inner ear problems. In the UK, there is still a Tricycle Association and even a small number of races, and since the original date of this writeup Belgium seems to have taken trike racing up in a small way as well, enough to hold an unofficial annual World Championships; I do not know whether my own occasional outings on a barrow when I lived there had any influence on this. The leading manufacturer of lightweight machines is George Longstaff while Pashley make utility models; a notable but defunct maker was the Higgins company. Most makers also produced "conversion kits" to make a trike from a bike frame. Recumbent models are a more recent development and somebody else can node about them; they're easy, practical and sensible and much less entertaining.

How to ride a tricycle

You might assume that an upright tricycle is easy to ride, since it stands up on its own. If you have never ridden a bicycle, this is possibly the case; however, if you have, then you have a shock coming. This machine will actively attempt to throw you off at any opportunity it sees. It will take control of its own steering, usually in the direction of the kerb (hey, don't complain, at least that's away from the oncoming traffic). This is a serious challenge.

All you have to fear, however, is your own reactions, especially your own panic reactions. On a bicycle, you steer into a wobble, in order to get the wheels under your centre of gravity; on a trike you have to pull away from it, so experienced bike riders mostly just make the problem worse and end up going in ever decreasing circles until they fall off. Indeed, you do most of the steering on a bike with your arse, by shifting your weight from one side to another; on a trike, you have to knowingly turn the handlebars and then shift your weight in such a way as to stop the thing turning turtle; in a hard turn this normally involves hanging out with your left buttock over the right hand wheel, or vice versa; to facilitate this you put your inside foot down whilst cornering (whereas on a bike you raise it to increase ground clearance while you lean the machine over. You're trying not to do that, though, remember?).

Your next obstacle is the roadway itself (no, don't even think about going offroad). The surface may look flat to you now, but you will soon learn that highway engineers have some odd ideas about cambering it so that the rainwater runs off into the gutters. The trike will tend towards the fall line, so you normally have to keep hauling on the bars to hold a straight line; indeed, if the camber is hard enough, you may end up riding with both hands pulling on the uphill side of the bars. Small irregularities like road mends and sunken drain covers will send you veering wildly in a different direction; with luck there won't be any major obstacles there.

Once you have mastered this (which requires constant attention for the first couple of hours, lest you forget and revert to two-wheeled ways), you will be able to give up on the wholly reasonable grounds (have I said that before) that there is no reason to go to all this additional effort just in order to have everybody go into hysterics whenever they catch sight of you, and go back to a nice, sensible, man-and-machine-in-perfect-harmony, bicycle. You will then, however, probably forget to take your feet off the pedals when you stop.

The Philippine tricycle serves much the same purpose as the Thai tuk tuk, and is a common form of public transportation in both rural and urban areas. It consists of a motorcycle and sidecar combination, with a canvas roof stretched over a framework of metal bars, welded to the sidecar. Like its larger cousin the jeepney, tricycles are usually decorated with shiny chrome and stainless steel, with various mirrors, colorful banners, and other decorations.

Tricycles can usually seat three or four people, two in the sidecar, and one or two sitting behind the driver. In rural areas, it is not uncommon to find tricycles hauling five or six people, complete with vegetables, chickens and live pigs.

Due to their inability to withstand accidents, tricycles are banned from major metropolitan throughfares, so they are usually found servicing the back roads and alleys of the typical barangay. They also do not try to compete with the jeepney routes, but are usually found in areas unserviced by jeeps, or during the nighttime, when most jeepneys retire to their garages. This means tricycles are essential when you're trying to get home from the bar at closing time.

In the smaller cities and rural areas, tricycles supplement the inadequate jeepney traffic, transporting both housewives going to market and children coming home from school. All tricycles operate much like taxis, unlike jeepneys, which usually ply fixed routes.

Fare is typically PHP5-20 per passenger, depending on how far you want to go (usually in the same town), how many passengers there are (if you are the sole passenger, and you don't want to share, you'd better shell out the P20), and how late at night it's getting (usually, early-morning rides (after 2 AM) cost one and a half to twice the standard fare, depending on your bargaining skills).

Tricycle, the Buddhist review, was founded in 1991 as a non-profit quarterly journal devoted to spreading awareness of Buddhism and Buddhist teachings. The journal is supported primarily by subscriptions, rather than advertising, and is published out of New York City. While it does include some coverage of Buddhist-related news from Asian nations, the journal focuses primarily on Buddhism in the West (Europe and the United State), and primarily on the USA at that. Standard fare includes interviews with with Buddhist teachers and scholars, such as Thich Nhat Hanh or Robert Thurman, excerpts of translations from Buddhist texts, reviews of English-language books, and coverage of social or political events that relate to Buddhism in the world.

Many of Tricycle's issues are 'theme' issues, where a single issue or theme is the organizing principle of the majority of the features. Prevous 'theme' issues have included Hollywood Buddhism, death and dying practices, drug use and abuse, and Buddhism and depression. Interviews, special features, and passages from Buddhist religious texts will be selected that relate to this issue.

The choice of issues and the perspective presented often reveals Tricycle's roots in the counterculture of the 1960's and 70's. While the magazine usually does a good job of presenting some representation from multiple view points, it can't be ignored that most of the editors and contributors are Western converts who often came to Buddhism as part of a rejection of more traditional Western religious practices. In the issue on drug use, for instance, only one of several responses to the issue (that presented by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh) pointed out that the Five Precepts, the basis of both lay and monastic Buddhist morality seem to directly contradict the efficacy and propriety of using drugs as part of one's Buddhist practice. The publication caters primarily to educated, middle-class and above middle aged Americans, who, though they may be quite sincere in their beliefs, have perspectives and concerns regarding Buddhism that are often distinct not only from so-called 'ethnic' Buddhists, but from Buddhists from different generations and socio-economic backgrounds. But of course, you can't be everything to everyone.

To their credit, Tricycle has been quite willing to address in depth a number of issues shrouded in controversy within the Western Buddhist community, and has, in most cases, given them a good and open airing. Abuses on the part of religious teachers (particularly in the Zen tradition), the Dorje Shugden controversy, the place of reincarnation in Buddhist belief and teachings, substance abuse, depression, religious authority, and the generation gap in the Western sangha have all been raised at one time or another, and often addressed in some depth. Exploration of 'ethnic' Buddhism has also increased, with articles about the Pure Land communities in California and Hawai, and the saga of a group of besieged Theravada monks in Freemont, CA. The articles run the gamut from the intensely personal to the scholarly. Tricycle has also published a number of books on issues such as meditation or mindfulness, usually in the form of collections of short essays or remarks by well-known teachers.

So, why the name Tricycle? According to their website (www.tricycle.com), the choice was influenced by the prevelence of the number 3, and the concept of the wheel and vehicle in Buddhist thought. There is the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha (the Three Jewels), the three vehicles (Hinayana, Mahayana, and either Vajrayana or Ekayana, depending on your interpretation), the wheel of the Dharma (dhammacakra). The choice was also influenced by the Zen concept of the 'beginner's mind', a mind that is open to new experiences and learning. The phrase 'the beginning vehicle for advanced minds' occasionally follows the name.

Tri"cy*cle (?), n. [Pref. tri- + cycle as inbicycle.]

A three-wheeled velocipede. See Illust. under Velocipede. Cf. Bicycle.


© Webster 1913.

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