Pune’s Public Bicycle Sharing (PBS) scheme has earnt rave reviews, and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi is looking to emulate it.
Talks of starting a similar scheme in Varanasi, which is among the worst air-pollution affected and congested cities in India, are in the “final stages,” according to The Indian Express (TIE).
Other cities including Kakinada, Chandigarh, Faridabad, Dharamshala and Chennai are also likely to take their cues from Pune.
From December 2017, the month in which the PBS scheme was launched, to March 2018, 3.5 lakh bicycle trips were completed.
Launched by the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited in association with private firms like Zoomcar and Ofo, the scheme has attracted many followers. They have ensured that its rate of success has overtaken similar initiatives in other international cities.
“The scheme has become so popular locally, among students in particular, that five trips per cycle per day was the rate at which the bicycles were getting booked on the special app. The best known global rate of using a shared cycle has been booking up to three trips per cycle per day,” says TIE.
From a couple of hundred bicycles, the scheme has encouraged the arrival of nearly 1500 such vehicles on the roads in just three months. The PBS scheme began in Aundh, an affluent suburb of Pune before its scope was extended to Jangli Maharaj Road, Fergusson College road, the Savitribai Phule Pune University, College of Agriculture and other residential societies.
Why did officials in PSCDCL initiate such a scheme?
The answer lies in a survey where a third of Pune’s residents said that transport, especially last-mile connectivity, and mobility were the two most pressing concerns in the city. Making matters worse for residents is the lack of a well-oiled public transport system. According to data presented by PSCDCL officials, a mere 19% of the city’s transport needs are catered to by its public transport system.
While private vehicles took up 47%, walking and cycling stood at a reasonable 33%. Despite a third of its populace resorting to walking or cycling, the city still lacks the necessary infrastructure to further incentivise cycling.
“Work to lay more cycle sharing tracks in the city is on in full swing,” Rajendra Jagtap, CEO of the PSCDCL told TIE. Moreover, authorities are also looking to establish cycle parking spots, putting up hoardings to promote cycle and conduct community engagement programmes. By 2031, the PSCDCL hopes to make cycling the most used source of public transport.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)