Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bicycle sharing company Mobike pedals into Pune


PUNE: Mobike, the Chinese bike sharing company, pedalled into Pune, on the heels of Zoom Car’s Pedl, which launched its operation in the city last year. For Mobike, India will be the 17th country of its operation. The company said it launched its operation from Kothrud and would extend its service to different areas before moving on to other cities. However, cycle tracks remain woefully inadequate in the city.

Pune Municipal Corporation representative, superintendent engineer and project officer Narendra Salunkhe, said the city had plans to develop 700 kms of cycle tracks and it should be done in 2-3 years. “The timeline for getting the entire 700 km stretch ready will depend on the availability of funds but we think it should be ready in 2-3 years,” he said.

Salunkhe said around 2,000 to 2,500 cycles had been introduced by a host of ride sharing companies and each cycle contributed to about five rides per day on an average. Cycling is thought of as a viable option to connect people over short distances. Ramnath Subramaniam, executive officer, strategic planning, MahaMetro, Pune, said all the agencies were working on a plan to include cycle as a mode of transport for shorter distances, once the Metro comes up.

While using cycle as a mode of transport gives immense benefits, there is not even a single 3-km-long stretch of road that can offer continuous and dedicated riding experience to cyclists. The one being constructed along University Road since long remains incomplete and needs “rectification.” Yet, companies are making a beeline for India, and, Pune, specifically. However, it is not uncommon to see Pedl cycles parked along the footpaths, there being hardly any takers.

Vibhor Jain, chief executive officer, Mobike India, said there was a potential for 20,000-25,000 cycles in the city. The company said Mobike did around 2 million trips in some big cities in China. Recently, images of huge unused stock of abandoned bicycles in China were flashed in news reports and across the Internet. Jain said Mobikes were zero maintenance cycles and had the necessary design element to tackle Indian roads. The company has priced its rentals at Rs 10 per ride or at Rs 99 per month for unlimited rides.

People can download the app, make payments, scan the QR code and then get going. The company said its backend could track each cycle and its movement and provide the city administration with critical inputs. For now, however, none of the ride sharing companies is thinking on the lines of providing any docking station for cycles. They believe that the cycles will more or less be in use and not require too much of rest. Cycles in some places continue to clog footpaths when not in use.


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