ByÂ Kirti Joshi:
Cycle sharing program is a system where the cycles are rented on short term basis. It is a flexible form of personal public transport where with a smart card or other form of identification one can rent a bicycle. This type of program have massively grown in the past few years, in April 2012 there were 375 such schemes and in April 2013 there were around 535 cycle -sharing programs around the world.
In Copenhagen, the bicycle path was first established in 1892. In the 1950s, Copenhagen experienced a decline in cycling due to increasing affordability of motor vehicles. In 1970s, energy crisis which hit Denmark, lead to massive environmental movement, cycling experienced a rebirth and government also introduced car-free Sundays to conserve oil reserves and the cycle culture emerged again. Massive demonstrations were organized in Copenhagen for demanding better infrastructure and safety for the city’s cyclists. From the 1980s until today, the network of cycle tracks and paths within the city has almost doubled in length and it has become the world’s leading green city. Copenhagen has adopted a new cycling strategy called the “good, better, best — The City of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Strategy 2011-2025″ which aims to make Copenhagen the world’s best city to cycle in.
Cycling is considered to be complete workout for the whole body. It’s a proven fact that it builds strength in a holistic manner, strengthens leg muscles and is great for the mobility of hip and knee joints and since every single part of the body is involved in cycling. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50.To sum it up cycling as an exercise can help you to lose weight faster, increase your lung power and also work’s on your leg muscles. It is for all kinds of people, whether rich or poor. Thirty minutes of bicycle riding sums up to 2100 km in a year, it reduces the risk for obesity by 50%, high blood pressure by 30%, heart illness by 50%.
Cycle sharing is part of a broader initiative to reduce health problems, automotive traffic, reducing speed limits, marking dedicated bus lanes to help move people on road efficiently. One of the main reasons for cycle sharing springing up at such a fast pace is that these programs are inexpensive, no maintenance is required and there are less hassles for the cyclist to take care of problems such as parking space and its upkeep. Share-the-Road thinking, treats bicycles as a feasible means of transportation, sharing transportation corridors with automobiles and pedestrians, promotes safe roadway practices and is an intelligent treatment of streets for all roadway users.
In the capital city, Delhi, the inhabitants encounter worsening traffic congestion on the roads nowadays. The rapid urbanization in Delhi has resulted in a tremendous increase in the number of motor vehicles with the increase in population and urban mobilization. The vehicular traffic is now recognized as one of the main sources of air pollution in Delhi and has noticeable impact on air quality. It has been observed that vehicles alone contribute about 64% of the pollution in Delhi while other sources like power plants, industries, and domestic release contribute 16%, 12% and 8% respectively. The number of vehicles registered in Delhi has already crossed 6 million and a sizeable vehicular traffic joins Delhi roads from the neighbouring states. In the present times people have started to lead a very sedentary lifestyle. Seventy percent of India’s urban population is at the risk cardiovascular disease.
To counter the increasing health and transportation problems in NCR, GreenBike, a cycle sharing program was started by Delhi government in the year 2009. Where a person could rent a cycle at INR 10 for 4 hours and INR 5 Â every hour after that. The main aim of the program was sustainable transport in the city and to make cycling a fashion statement mainly among the youth and school children.”I am happy to be in the “cycle friendly” part of the city. Enthusiastic about this biking commute as it is environment friendly so in a way I am contributing for a greener Delhi” – Asmita Punia, Delhi university student.
But GreenBike plan has its own flaws as there is no proper execution of the plan in Delhi and the cycle lanes are restricted to Delhi university north campus area and some selected south Delhi areas. Also, cycle lanes are terribly missing as you often see motorbikes running through them or street hawkers on them. One of the main reasons why people are not cycling in Delhi is that they feel it would be unsafe cycling with the other petrol/diesel based vehicles. With separate lanes only for the cycles, people will be obliged to provide more space for cyclists with sufficient protection from other traffic.
Having cycles ready to go on the streets will encourages more people to try out sharing, and once they experience its convenience and inexpensiveness, they will then advocate for further developments in the cycling infrastructure–like cycle lanes, paths, and parking which makes it even easier for more riders to join in. Decision taken today will reap benefits in the long term, therefore let’s all hope that this environment friendly transport system will soon show up in a city near you.