Three cycle-sharing stands show how pedalling can plug last-mile gap in Delhi
Experts say the public bicycle-sharing system needs a push in order to plug the last-mile connectivity, and promote clean environment and fitness.
It’s a study in contrast. While 17 available cycle stands across Delhi are in dire want of users, demand for three such shelters at Vishwavidyalaya, Jor Bagh and JLN Metro station has seen a significant increase.
The two cycle shelters at Vishwavidyalaya Metro station are busy always, providing last-mile connectivity to hundreds of students in Delhi University’s North Campus.
While one provides bikes on a rental basis where it has to be returned at the same stand, the second one lets you drop the cycle at another shelter built outside Ramjas college which is also being used by students of Hindu College, St. Stephen’s College, Kirori Mal College, Daulat Ram College and the Delhi School of Economics.
Reports with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) suggest that the cycle sharing system at Vishwavidyalaya station saw 9,458 trips till December from when it was launched in May last year. During the same time, the rental stand managed 770 trips.
Similarly, the cycle sharing scheme between Jor Bagh and JLN stadium stations, which also has a satellite point at India Habitat Centre, has recorded its highest ever ridership.
These stands now have 400 registered commuters, an increase from 112 commuters who were registered before the sharing scheme was introduced. Its total trips also picked up to a mammoth 20,853 in just a year.
However, experts say the public bicycle sharing (PBS) system needs a push in order to plug the last mile connectivity, and promote clean environment and fitness.
“The rental system is mostly for recreational and tourism purpose as people need to return the cycle at the same point from where they take it. Instead of focusing merely on inaugurating cycle stands, the government must focus on connecting these shelters, so that users can leave the cycle near their destination,” says Atul Jain, founder of Delhi Cycles Private Limited that runs six stands in the city.
Greenolution is another operator that runs eight stands in the capital. The venture lets people keep the bicycle for a month in their possession, albeit only for members who have to pay Rs 4,000 for the service. The company had also introduced cycle sharing between Saket and Neb Sarai, but that too has now been restricted only to members.
“We have around 350 members under our ‘Own a cycle’ scheme, where they can even take cycles to their homes. Others have to pick and drop the cycle at the same stand,” says Virendra Chopra, co-founder, Greenolution.
Like the one at Saket, another project has failed to take off due to the lackadaisical attitude of authorities. The facility in Rohini East which was launched by the Delhi government with much fanfare in January last year, has now ended up being just another cycle renting stand.
Inaugurated as the ‘Green Ride Public Bicycle Sharing Service’ by transport minister Gopal Rai, the facility was meant to enable a user to pick a cycle from four metro stations — Rohini East, Rohini Sectors 8, 13 and 14 — and drop it off at any of these points. However, only the Rohini East cycle stand is operational now.
“We received approval from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to set up the remaining three stands long ago. But we have been awaiting approval from the North Delhi Municipal Corporation since November 2015. Despite following it up with the concerned official almost 18 times, the file has not moved,” Jain said.
The Delhi Development Authority had planned to implement the scheme on a much bigger scale in Dwarka, but that too continues to be on paper. The project, which was proposed in 2014, aims to install 300 cycle stations in an area of 65 kilometres within Dwarka. Each station was to have 10 to 20 cycles to ensure better last mile connectivity and encourage people to opt for public transport. The deadline was the end of 2015, but not a single station has come up yet.