India lags behind in promoting cycling culture and Public Bicycle Sharing system
As a counter measure to deal with rising emission levels and congestion on roads, presently, 800 cities in 56 countries have well established public bicycle sharing systems. The system consists of bike hubs situation in an area from where anyone can rent a bike for short distance commuting. The cycle can be picked up from one hub and left at another on reaching the destination. The cycles are made available at cheap rents. Advanced electronic assisted tools help preventing theft or misuse. The bikes are equipped with trackers too.
It cuts traffic trouble and struggle for parking space. A space required to park a car can accommodate 15-20 cycles. There are no fuel expanses, no maintenance cost, no emissions, lesser accident rate, lower road maintenance and many other benefits. Pedaling even helps you stay fit.
Using bicycle cut usage of metal, rubber, steel etc. as less number of vehicles will be manufactured. In every aspect, cycling reduces carbon footprint.
Rennes and Lyon, and Paris were first to introduce this concept a decade ago. France started Velib’ in 2007, now the world’s second-largest operation.
However, India is not showing much interest in encouraging bike sharing systems. Well, the reality is that India need to promote cycling culture more than any country in the world after China. China is leading the cycling front with biggest number of people using cycle as mean of transportation. But India is still not awake.
In 2012, the Delhi high court made incisive remark regarding increasing traffic on roads while hearing a petition. It said:
“There being no scope to expand the width of the existing roads and the population of Delhi continuously being on the rise, we see no escape from the fact that the citizens of Delhi have to, one day or the other, use public transport. Cars, cars and cars and nothing else. And yet the roads are bursting at the seams. It could well be argued that when more than 50% of the road passengers travel by buses, it would be illogical and irrational to spend 98% of the grants under the JNNURM with the targeted beneficiary being cars.”
Continuous rise in number of vehicles on road, clearly, the concern here is over-crowding and traffic congestion.
Even otherwise lack of parking space and increasing fuel rates as fossil fuel resources are drying.
Air pollution is breaking records in India. Delhi, the capital of India, has earned the reputation of being the most polluted city in whole world.
European countries have seen the peak of crowded roads or, at least, they predicted it well before becoming an irresolvable trouble.
To deal with upcoming trouble and counter rising emission levels, these countries have emphasized on sustainable transportation through encouraging public transportation facilities like Rapid Bus Transit. Meanwhile, a huge number of cities in developed nations created awareness regarding public bicycle sharing programs and encouraged it.
Urbanization and economic development is increasing the purchasing power of Indian citizens. Although, only 18 out of 1000 are capable of owning a vehicle, India’s roads are already overstressed and emission level are reaching alarming point.
Indian lawmakers could only copy these models from developed countries. Many announcements appeared in newspapers a decade ago regarding public bicycle sharing schemes. However, the ground reality is very harsh and bitter.
Indian government did not support these schemes and hesitated funding for infrastructural requirements for the establishments of bike sharing system.
However, India seems to be heading backwards. The public bicycle is growing worldwide, but just not India. According to an article on CNBC:
“Attempts in recent years to start schemes in India have failed, largely due to lack of government support. Under-investment in road infrastructure and cultural disengagement with the bicycle among the country’s middle class further hinders the task.”
There were some attempts like Cycle Chalao venture that started in 2010 in Mumbai and operated for sometime before its funds dried up.
Recently, Delhi Metro launched its first public bicycle sharing scheme for its users to provide last-mile connectivity. The user can either register online or visit a metro station to obtain a smartcard. With this smartcard, user can rent a cycle at rate of Rs. 10 per hour.
However, most of such schemes are still pending, waiting for government’s attention. India has also lagged behind in terms of infrastructure for such commuting systems.
It’s time that India must leave behind the ridiculous perspective that cycle is for those who can’t buy cars. The nation needs to move forward or it’ll land in chaos very soon.