Frustrated with autorickshaw drivers who would refuse to ferry short distances, three cycling enthusiasts came up with an innovative, yet efficient, project: Cycle Chalao.
People can hire bicycles for short distances from prime locations such as railway stations, colleges and malls for as little as Rs 10 a day.
The cycle-for-hire service is currently available at Mulund railway station and nearby Kelkar College and is limited to students because of identification problems.
Twenty-four-year-olds Raj Janagam, Jui Gangan and Jyotika Bhatia, the core members of the seven-member team, had launched the project on January 26. They are all pursuing Executive MBA in Social Entrepreneurship from NMIMS in Vile Parle.
After registration, one can hire a bicycle from one station and drop it at another for Rs 175 a month or Rs 45 a week.
“Cycling in Mulund has become a trend with Cycle Chalao," said Swejal Gangan, who has been hiring cycles to travel short distances for the last six months. "Cycling every morning is very refreshing and healthy. Sometimes, we friends go for pleasure rides."
The group plans to set up four more "bicycle stations" by January. "We also plan to issue smart cards, similar to the ones used in public transport buses, so that everyone can use the service on showing an identification proof," said Janagam.
"We are now facing problems in generating revenue and also getting permissions to set up more bicycle stations because these do not come under the purview of the Regional Transport Office (RTO). We try to recover revenue from advertising space above the wheel," said Jui.
The Centre for Sustainable Transport, a non-profit organization, is also working towards promote cycling to prevent pollution and tide over traffic problems. “We are in touch with the municipal corporation to create a dedicated cell for bicycles because of the RTO norms,” said Rishi Aggarwal, director, Institutional Relations, CST.