By Ankit Varma:
Do you want to do something for the environment, but find the task of cutting down your carbon foot-print too daunting? Are you finding it difficult to make time for your daily dose of work-out? And are the auto-drivers denying you a ride because your destination is too close? If you happen to live in Mumbai, the solution for all of the above problems is fairly simple; all you need to do is subscribe to ‘Cycle Chalao’. ‘Cycle Chalao’ is a one of its kind project in India that aims to tackle the problem of traveling short distances in Mumbai.
Raj Jangam was growing frustrated with the lack of transportation methods in India for commuting to shorter distances. He said ‘10 million in Mumbai alone use local trains and public buses for long distance transport’, but there was no practical way for him to get from the Railway station to his college. This offered an ideal situation to establish a bike-sharing project. The concept is fairly simple; you rent a cycle from the docking station where you get down from the train or bus and can ride it to your destination, and leave it at the nearest docking station.Â (source)
Although still in its infant stages, the project has shown excellent growth in terms of number of subscribers and corporate support. Following the pilot’s success, Raj Jangam plans to open 3,000 bicycle stands in at least five Indian cities by 2016.
Mumbai’s problems are not unique, these are the problems which a commuter in every metro faces on a daily basis. Bike sharing projects along the lines of Cycle Chalao might just be the answer to a commuter’s woes. The project does not require any elaborate infrastructure or large investments. Most importantly it is largely self governed, making the need of administrative functions bare-minimum. Also Government funding and subsidies would encourage more of such cycle-sharing initiatives.
But bike-sharing projects too have their set of problems. Lacks of dedicated lanes continue to discourage the riders. Add to this the largely unorganized traffic and the congested streets. On the brighter side such ideas are gaining momentum in many cities like Pune known as the bike capital of India which has 125 km of dedicated bike lanes.
Although it is too early too say that cycles will be our national transport in the near future but Cycle Chalao is certainly a step in the right direction.