South civic body plans to provide e-bicycle sharing service by the year-end
With an aim to boost last-mile connectivity and provide a low-cost, environment friendly mobility option to city residents, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has decided to start a facility to lease out e-bicycles from different locations under its jurisdiction by the year-end.
The project is designed on the lines of a similar e-bicycle hiring service provided by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in its areas. A policy to start the project was cleared last month by the south corporation.
SDMC officials said to avail of the service, users will have to register on the SDMC’s app and then they can hire an e-bike for a maximum of up to 10 hours and use it within the SDMC area. Users will be charged a nominal fee for the use of e-bikes, which will be available at sheds set up across different locations in the SDMC jurisdiction.
Rajdutt Gehlot, chairman SDMC standing committee, said the move would help reduce people’s dependency on automobiles and consequently reduce traffic congestion, vehicular emissions and parking menace. “There is an enormous demand for cycling in the city, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic. We wish to create a dense network of non-motorised e-bike sharing service around Metro stations, bus stands, markets, office complexes, tourist destinations, residential areas, and parks, among others. We will integrate this with the city’s public transport system,” Gehlot said.
A senior SDMC official said e-bikes will be tracked through a wireless tracking system such as a radio frequency identification device (RFID) or through the mobile app that locates where the vehicle has been picked up from and later returned.
“The system will have real-time monitoring of station occupancy rates. We hope to launch this project in the next two or three months,” a south civic body official said on condition of anonymity.
However, experts suggest that development of dedicated cycling infrastructure is very important for the success of such projects. They also stressed on the need to integrate the bike sharing service with public transport options and to ensure their availability near crowded places such as markets and hospitals in order benefit the most number of people.
Anumita Roychoudhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment, said cycling or public bike sharing system is gaining traction especially in the time of Covid-19 as it’s a contactless medium to move about the city. “We certainly want such environment friendly systems for last-mile connectivity. But the civic authorities will have to ensure improvement in the infrastructure for cyclists. As an immediate solution, the authorities can make short-term changes in road design by creating pop-up by-lanes dedicated to cyclists with the help of soft barriers. Geometry of intersections will also have to be improved to make this model successful,” she said.
Anuj Malhotra, an urban mobility expert and knowledge partner, Union ministry of home affairs, said such projects can only be successful when the cities have equally robust infrastructure for cyclists and have an abundance of e-cycle stations. He said according to the bicycle sharing transport system guidelines, issued by the ministry of housing and urban affairs, there should be nearly nine to 16 e-bike stations in a square kilometre area so that the public would have a bicycle available within a distance of a two-minute walk.
“To make the model successful the civic body should start working on creating necessary cycling infrastructure such as dedicated lanes, pedestrian and cyclist friendly intersections, and adequate streetlighting. They should take a cue from Dwarka, where the DDA has started work on creating cycling infrastructure. People will only opt for e-bikes when they will feel safe on roads,” Malhotra said.