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Bicycle Sharing Bubble Burst in China, but in India it’s Still Ballooning

A cycle in Delhi can make the same distance as a car or motorbike in the same time, finds out this founder of a bike sharing startup.

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Photo Credit : indian7.in,

Mysuru was the first city to launch a bike sharing project

On the eve China’s bike sharing economy burst out of its safe bubble and met the realities of a cold world, wrote one bike sharing startup’s founder, “I was filled with arrogance”.

Bluegogo, a bike sharing startup from China will soon be a thing of the past. But China is still bike sharing central. The two leading bike sharing startups in China, Mobike and Ofo combined have raised close to 2 billion dollars. The past 12 months witnessed at least, in the very least, going by media counts, over ten startups not just start business in the bike sharing sector but raise money with all the fervor of raging bulls.

A senior lecturer on transport at University of Huddersfield, Alexandros Nikitas, writes in her article, “The Global Bike Sharing Boom and Why Cities Love a Cycling Scheme,” In 2004, only 11 cities had adopted bike sharing. Today, more than 1,000 public bicycle schemes of varying sizes and specifications run in more than 50 countries, across five continents.”

In India, Ola Cabs reportedly started their bike rental pilot, Ola Pedal, at IIT Kanpur earlier this month.

Zoomcar, a self-drive, car sharing platform, has launched PEDL. This tech enabled cycle sharing service is expected to have over 10,000 cycles on the road by the ends of 2017.

The newbie entrepreneurs are testing out bicycle sharing as a business too. Vansh Taneja of dockless bicycle sharing app, Letscycle.in says, “We are competing with few other IIT's like IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi to launch cycle sharing [operations] asap”.

Raj Chauhan, founder of Letscycle.in chronicles his path to convincing people to cycle. His experiments had him clocking over 500km riding all over Delhi to get first-hand experience:

“You'd think cycling in India is hard; decrepit infrastructure, pollution and horrible traffic. But if you really think about it, most traffic on Indian roads are made up of two wheelers.

So I took it upon myself to actually ride cycles as my primary means of transport before I can convince other people to do so. And the results were surprising even to me. It just so happens that you can make the same distance you would in a car or bike. Traffic is generally slow moving, for a motor vehicle that is. For a cycle it can be a comfortable pace. You do not worry about speeding vehicles trying to overtake you. More often than not, it's the cyclist who can overtake other vehicles and manoeuvre comfortably in rush hour conditions.

It has been six months since then that I've been spreading the bike sharing gospel to promote dock less bicycle sharing in India and approaching colleges for the same. Truth be told, we had limited success. First it was convincing people that cycling is actually a viable way to commute within campuses and then it was running into extensive bureaucracy.

Eventually it happened. The floodgates of the bike sharing market opened, and a variety of companies jumped in, from Indian unicorns Ola Cabs, to Zoomcar to the Chinese heavyweights, all preparing for their eventual launch in the Indian market.

And that is fantastic news for customers. In the coming few months, you will see station-less bicycles all across India's major urban centers. Currently Letscycle as well as other players have been anchored to colleges and university campuses. That will soon change, our ultimate goal is to solve the last mile conundrum. We are not just selling a service to go from point A to point B on a bicycle, we're offering the convenience of never having to think about everyday logistics .

And Urban India needs it more than anywhere else; we face some of the worst infrastructure and pollution problems. But that just makes it the perfect storm for dockless bike sharing apps like Letscycle to swoop in. Rest assured, in a year's time, you won't book a cab to the nearest metro station because the smart cycle will be a better option. The bicycle sharing revolution is here - we just hope to be a small part of it.”



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