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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

2018, the year that was: City cycling towards sustainability; vandalism, infrastructure a worry

With growing traffic congestion and air pollution concerns, the market for bicycle sharing in Pune is all set to grow

pune Updated: Dec 25, 2018 16:15 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Limited
Inauguration of second phase of public Bicycle sharing (PBC) at SPPU  University.
Inauguration of second phase of public Bicycle sharing (PBC) at SPPU University.(HT/PHOTO)
         

Public bicycle sharing (PBS) scheme was set up with the objective of creating a 300-km network of bicycle tracks in the city. This draft plan was approved by the general body of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) after a team of consultants presented a survey of 11,000 people from various backgrounds for their travel patterns, views about cycling and willingness to shift to bicycles.

The PBS now boasts of four lakh registered users on the dedicated app and according to the bicycle sharing department of the PMC, the number of bicycles have touched the 8,000 mark this year. 

The PBS scheme was launched on January 5 this year at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) campus and later it was implemented across the city after a good response, but the incidents of vandalism was a set back.

“We are getting a good response from residents across Pune as well as the service providers. We hold weekly review meetings to discuss the issues faced and think of better solutions for the users,” said Narendra Salunkhe, head of the bicycle sharing department, PMC. 

The PBS aims to serve as another mode of transport for commuters and provide efficient last mile connectivity for public transport users. Under the plan, PMC has tied up with vendors - Pedl, OFO, Mobike and Yulu - who provide bicycles, which users use through online payment.

The idea was to deploy one lakh cycles and according to Rajendra Jagtap, CEO, Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited, “Initially bicycles were released in smaller quantities to gauge the behavioural as well as the user patterns, but once we realised that it was received well by residents, we launched more of the bicycles. Now, people are seen using bicycles regularly in the Aundh, Baner and Balewadi area.” 

But there were cases of theft and vandalism of these free to use public bicycles, with as many as 25 per cent of the bicycles being vandalised or broken. “We approached the police and currently, we have the situation under control with every police chowky helping us trace missing cycles and even helping us change the mindset of people towards this service. We have time-to-time checks in various areas where the cycles are installed and we also create awareness about the scheme among the users. The only issue is the lack of infrastructure in the city. Currently, the city in the ‘transformation mode’ where we have many ongoing projects which could restrict people from using the bicycle as the mode of last mile transport. Also, we have so far only completed 26 km out of the 92 km of cycle tracks proposed to be constructed in the city,” said Salunkhe.  

Mobike is one of the bicycle vendors who started service six months ago with 500 bicycles. Adarsh Kedari, city operations head, Mobike, said, “Currently, we have a total of 2,500 cycles on the road and we are catering only to the central part of Pune with concentration on the Peth areas, Kothrud, Deccan, Shivajinagar as well as the MIT Campus.” He further added, “Mobike has plans to increase their manpower and bicycles. We will also be looking at PCMC (Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation) and more of PMC areas, but it depends on how soon the infrastructure will be in place.”

Yulu bikes arrived in February 2018 with 100 bicycles at the MIT and Flame University campus and later in the Amanora Township. Currently, they have 1,500 bicycles which are mostly in townships like Magarpatta, Nanded City and Amanora, while they have begun their services in areas like Kothrud, Karvenagar, Deccan, Warje and Sinhagad road. They have also extended their services to NDA recently.Their plan for 2019 is to bring in 2,000 bicycles and also launch e-bikes for those who cannot use bicycles. “We aim to cover the rest of Pune starting with Koregaon Park, Vimannagar, Kalyaninagar and Bund Garden with 500 bicycles in each area at a time,” said Ritesh Rathore, city operation head, Yulu.

What happened in 2018

The share a bicycle plan began with a lot of expectations and eager Punekars waiting to try their hand at this option of last mile connectivity. The plan first began on a trial basis in Aundh with Pedl, as one of the vendors and slowly taking it across the city with three more vendors.

What to expect in 2019

The Share a bicycle plan plans to further the last mile connectivity by adding more bicycles and reaching to the other suburbs as well as central pune to help reduce use of vehicles, but this will all happen only after infrastructure is in place.

Yulu plans to bring in 2,000 bicycles and also launch E-bikes for those who cannot cycle.

Yulu aims to start its service in Koregaon Park, Vimanagar, Kalyaninagar and Bund Garden by adding 500 bicycles.

Pedl will re-launch with a more robust hardware product in the later part of 2019.

Positives

Public bicycle sharing plan (PBS) now boasts of 4 lakh registered users on app and according to the bicycle sharing department, they even crossed 6,000 bicycles mark for this year.

People are seen using bicycles regularly in the Aundh, Baner and Balewadi area.

Pedl, OFO, Mobike and Yulu signing MoU with PMC.

Negatives

Towards the end of the year, Public bicycle sharing seemed to have lost its steam with OFO pulling out in August 2018.

Cases of theft, vandalism of these bicycles were reported.

As many as 25 per cent of the bicycles were vandalised or broken.

Lack of infrastructure is restricting people from using these bicycles.

Only 26 km out of the 92 km which was to be completed in 2018.

First Published: Dec 25, 2018 16:15 IST