Tuesday, January 05, 2010

E-City’s cycles are yet to hit the road

E-City’s cycles are yet to hit the road
Healthy, Pollution-Free Commuting In Sight But No Funds Yet
Aarthi R | TNN

Bangalore: Although more and more people know the benefits of using bicycles, many plans and proposals to make this mode of transport an integral part of their lives just don’t take off.
The concept of ‘EC Bike’ proposed for Electronic City last year is a case in point. This pilot plan aimed for easy mobility at one of Bangalore’s busiest hubs with 10 stations and 500 bicycles. It was complemented with mobile systems and prepaid smartcards.
The planning got closer to the popular ‘Paris Velib’ model of a community bicycle programme. But action on the ground still awaits government nod. The proposal submitted to the government in June 2009 is yet to get grant under the Innovation Fund.
Another challenge is finalization of the bicycle design. The bicycle should be gendercompatible and appealing to all categories of users, and adhere to variations in their physical height.
“We are waiting for funds. The plan is almost ready. Once the pilot experiment is successful, we plan to release the system as open source software so that it can be replicated anywhere in India. This will require zero investment for building the technology,” said Murali, project manager of Ride a Cycle Foundation.
WHY ELECTRONIC CITY?
Planners say there is a huge demand in the area. At least a lakh people commute here daily; majority of them work in the services industry. Approximately, 1,000 people enter this part of the city between 8 am and 9 am, walking an average of 2 km to offices. Smaller companies have no proper transport facilities.
WHY THIS SYSTEM?
This is also known by different names such as Community Bicycle Programme, Yellow Bicycle Programme, White Bicycle Programme, Public Bike or Free Bikes. The reasons for implementing bicycle-sharing systems are as numerous as the forms they take. Bicycles are made available for users who don’t own one.
Recently, and most notably, municipal governments promoted the systems as part of intermodal transportation, allowing people to shift easily from transit to bicycle and back again. Also, community groups have promoted bicycle sharing as a way to make alternatives to motorized travel, hoping to reduce carbon footprint.
These systems can be divided into two general categories: community bike programmes organized by local groups or NGOs, and smart bike projects implemented by municipalities or through PPP, as in the case of Paris’ Velib programme.
The central concept of the systems is free or affordable access to bicycles for city transport. This, to reduce use of automobiles for short trips.
(With additional reporting
by Prashanth G N)
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
Step 1: Get your pre-paid smart card with a reference (similar to opening a bank account) Step 2: With this card, drop in at any of the 10 bicycle stations. Node managers at the stations will take care of the transaction Step 3: When you drop the cycle at the destination point, travel details and the fare automatically get updated on the card

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