‘Public Bike Sharing’ scheme for city mooted

Clean and green solution for short-distance city travel

The Energy Management Centre, Kerala (EMC), the Power Department agency which promotes energy conservation and acts as the lead entity for the ‘Go Electric’ e-mobility campaign in the State, has proposed ‘Public Bike Sharing’ (PBS) schemes as a clean and green solution for short-distance city travel.

PBS will be piloted in Thiruvananthapuram city with non-geared and geared bicycles and e-bikes. The service can be extended to other urban locations if the response is encouraging, EMC director R. Harikumar said. On the lookout for service providers, EMC is also planning to get startups on board the initiative, he said.

Increasingly popular in many cities as a healthy, affordable and sustainable mode of travel, PBS systems allow users to borrow bicycles – usually for a small fee or free of cost – for short periods. The two-wheelers can be accessed and dropped off at racks set up at various points across a city.

In Thiruvananthapuram city, EMC’s target users include daily commuters such as office-goers and students who can use the facility for first or last-mile connectivity, and tourists. The service will be on offer for a reasonable user tariff.

In addition to improving first and last-mile connectivity, a thriving PBS system can extend the reach of city transportation, reduce overcrowding in public vehicles and improve the urban environment, according to the EMC. Encouraging ‘green mobility’ aside, non-motorised transport (NMT) options also help to transform the nature of short-distance travel.

“NMT has gained prominence as a viable alternative to complete the first and last mile within the urban cores. Some Indian cities have borrowed from experiences of cities in Europe, North America and Asia to initiate similar Public Bike Sharing (PBS) schemes, as an integral part of their mobility solutions for the city,” the agency observed in an EoI invited from service providers last month.

Further, the National Urban Transportation Policy has as its prime objective “safe, affordable, quick, comfortable, reliable and sustainable access for the growing number of city residents to jobs, education, recreation and such other needs within our cities,” EMC noted.

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