National Workshop: Scaling up Public Bicycling Systems in India
WRI India partnered with the Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation Limited (BSCDCL) and the Minister of Urban Development (MoUD) to host the first national workshop on public bicycle sharing (PBS) in Bhopal today. 22 September is also observed worldwide as International Car-Free Day.
Having launched India’s first city-wide, fully automated PBS network in June this year, Bhopal is now promoting the system and hoping to mentor other cities that wish to adopt it, and help scale this into a national initiative. Its success is evident from the fact that within 2 months of its launch, the system has over 17,000 registered users. “Traditionally, people in Bhopal have walked or cycled short distances even though it appears that the current trend is moving towards motorised transport. We were unsure of how people would respond, but we took our chances. What we’ve seen emerge is a highly successful PBS model. While many Indian cities assume bicycles are an unviable option for commuting, this workshop will demonstrate how it is not only viable, but also fun.”, said Chandramauli Shukla, CEO, BSCDCL.
The objective of the event was to provide key learnings and insights into planning and implementation of PBS but also provide a great opportunity to the industry to showcase the products related to PBS systems. The workshop will feature a series of interactive sessions with city authorities as well as private players in the field. Globally, PBS is becoming smarter with the use of technology, benefitting people in more than 1,000 cities worldwide. Indian cities too have realised the importance and potential of these schemes in promoting sustainable transport. As envisioned by the National Urban Transport Policy, the concept of PBS has been earnestly endorsed by the MoUD. Cycle sharing is a key element in every city’s strategy to expand the use of sustainable transport modes under the smart cities mission.
Taking a cue from these efforts of the MoUD, Bhopal’s PBS system is aimed at providing an organised dimension to sustainable transportation in the city. The system is planned to act as a feeder service to the Bhopal bus rapid transit (BRT) system, especially in areas with high BRT ridership potential. It acts as a mode for last mile connectivity to residents who commute daily for work, education and recreational activities, and to encourage the use of cycling in the city. There are key learnings from Bhopal that other cities can adopt, including the business model, the community initiatives and other ancillary projects that helped build a friendly ecosystem for using sustainable transport. A key infrastructural aspect is the introduction of dedicated cycle lanes.
“Several pilot PBS projects have failed in the past as the business case for cycle sharing could not be figured out. The unique business model developed by WRI India has made the system economically viable enough to be successful and can be scaled and replicated in the country, without passing on the cost burden to riders”, said Amit Bhatt, Director – Urban Transport, WRI India Ross Center.
Moreover, PBS is not a one-off project in Bhopal. It is part of a bigger, more comprehensive plan around promoting walking and cycling in the city that started with the launch of Raahgiri Day in 2014. The success of Raahgiri Day was used to generate demand and get buy in from the community at large.
See updates from the event on social media by following #PBSBhopal