HYDERABAD : Now that the Public Bike Sharing (PBS) service is here in the city, the question arises as to where to the commuters will ride and park these cycles? With no adequate facilities, could the PBS turn into new kind of an urban nuisance, or even worse have no takers? ask activists who have been advocating for better footpaths in the city. For passengers opting to use the Metro, the last mile connectivity of getting to and back from the station continues to be an issue of concern. This is not just the case in Hyderabad and is a problem prevalent in most Indian cities that are ever-expanding. Most people use auto rickshaws, cabs and feeder bus service—that is available only to select localities—to reach their final destination. Will they make the switch to cycles?
The PBS model has been around since 2000 and is widely popular in many European cities. But, these cities have also developed dedicated cycling tracks, footpaths and motor-vehicle free zones to encourage people to ditch their cars. As a consequence, many of these cities managed to improve air quality, control traffic explosion. “They are bringing in a novel concept without planning and developing an infrastructure to support that,” says Sanjay Gadhalay, founder of Hyderabad Pedestrian and Safety. “There are no dedicated cycling tracks between Metro stations. Forget cycling tracks, there’s not enough space for people to even walk,” he says. Experts also point out that riding cycles in high traffic areas can complicate the traffic management and increase risks of accident.
“Every city has its limited space, the question is how we use it. We need to reduce car parking lots and increase the space for bicycles and pedestrians. PBS is a part of that solution,” says Sebastian Schlebusch, director of international business development at Nestbike, the company starting the first PBS operation in the city. “We have been dockless since the 2000s. We realised there was a need to show to the people in EU what bike sharing was all about. Now, it’s the same for us in India. It is better to avoid the parking problem that we went with a dock system than a dockless one.”