Pune pedalling towards a cleaner future
The original mandate for the PSCDCL was to facilitate a bicycle sharing plan for the Aundh-Baner-Balewadi Smart City project. However, after other agencies also approached the Smart City development corporation, the plan is now being replicated in other parts of city as well.pune Updated: Jan 17, 2018 15:14 IST
After the success of the public bicycle sharing project at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), four more areas in the city - Khadki Cantonment Board (KCB), Pune Cantonment Board (PCB), College of Agriculture and Magarpatta city - will look to introduce the project in areas under their jurisdiction.
According to Dr Rajendra Jagtap, chief executive officer (CEO) of Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (PSCDCL), who spearheaded the project, the plan will be executed within the next two months.
“We have been approached by the PCB, KCB, Agriculture college and Magarpatta city for the implementation of the public bicycle sharing plan. We are working on a plan and the new initiatives are expected to take off in these areas within a month or two,” said Jagtap.
The original mandate for the PSCDCL was to facilitate a bicycle sharing plan for the Aundh-Baner-Balewadi Smart City project. However, after other agencies also approached the Smart City development corporation, the plan is now being replicated in other parts of city as well.
“If the mandate is given to us, we will continue to execute the project in other parts of the city as well,”added Jagtap.
Besides the two bicycle service providers who are currently providing cycles for the project; PEDL from Zoomcar and ofo, a Chinese bike-sharing company; two more agencies including Mobike and Ola Pedal will soon be part of Smart City bicycle sharing initiative.
Ever since the public bicycle sharing plans were launched on December 5, 2017, on the SPPU campus and in December 7, 2017, in Aundh, in association with Zoomcar’s PEDL, public response to the initiative has been very good.
“We launched with 100 bicycles in SPPU, but the ridership is about 700 to 800 users. We noticed three different categories of riders including morning walkers, who have started to use the cycle as medium for exercise; day-time users who are mostly students and evening users who are mostly children who come with their families to learn to cycle,” said Jagtap.
Aundh, along with Baner and Balewadi, are the areas currently being developed by PSCDCL and will see dedicated cycle tracks being built in the near future.
Dr Jagtap also stated that the acceptability of a new entrant on a larger scale is something that has to be analysed and studied. “In Aundh, we proceeded in stages by introducing 25 cycles initially and then gradually increasing the number of cycles to 200. Ridership is also gradually increasing, especially on weekends. At time, cycles which started or originated in Aundh have been found in Deccan and as far as Sarasbaug. It is therefore evident that people have started using it to travel to even far-off areas,” Jagtap said.
In Baner and Balewadi, there will be proper dedicated tracks in a matter of two months, following which cycles will be introduced, he added.
“For any regular bicycle user, it will be a cheaper option to use a public bicycle, which will be rented out at a nominal cost. It also encourages sharing and each user can save at least ₹5,000, the cost of a new cycle. Besides this cost, maintenance cost, discipline and the fear of bicycle theft are also diminished by sharing public bicycles. To overcome these problems, we are encouraging the use of public cycles for travelling short distances and for recreation,” Jagtap said.
The bicycles for public sharing are all-weather proof and sport an aluminium base, disc brakes and tubeless tyres, which Dr Jagtap hopes, will help increase the popularity of bicycling in the city.
Besides, he stressed that the app will be user-friendly and have a dock-less system so that the number of restrictions that the user will have to move through are relatively fewer.
According to the ground research conducted by PSCDCL, the only possible hindrance to the project would be the unavailability of smartphones with students who belong to the socio-economically backward strata. This would mean that they would not be able to use the app or use the payments system for using the cycles.
For the PSCDCL, the only investment is in the physical infrastructure that they have to develop and in creating awareness amongst residents. “It is not our mandate to spend on the bicycle. When we collaborate with a company, we only physically check the bicycles,” said Jagtap. He also stressed that if everything goes according to plan, four more companies would be roped in for the implementation of the project in various other parts of the city.
“It will be a decision based on economical and technical parameters. This would also help users choose their favourite from an array of bicycles rather than giving them the monopolistic choice of a particular brand of bicycle. We have also asked residents to select the type of bicycle they want to use or are likely to use,” Jagtap added.