December 17, 2012

India’s Ministry of Urban Development Releases New Cycle Sharing Guide

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by Chris Kost, ITDP India

As more and more Indian cities implement high quality bus rapid transit and metro systems, cycle sharing is increasingly an important means of providing last-mile connectivity to mass rapid transit stations. The public bicycling systems that are popular in many countries are a relatively new concept in India, but in the last few years, several Indian cities have shown interest in setting up such systems. A pilot phase of India’s first fully automated cycle sharing system was recently launched in Bangalore, and additional systems are planned in Bhopal, Gurgaon, Mysore, and Rajkot.

Today, there are cycle sharing systems in over 200 cities around the globe, and more programs start every year. Some of the largest cycle sharing systems are in Chinese cities like Hangzhou and Shanghai. Washington, D.C., USA; Paris, France; and London, U.K., have hugely successful systems that have helped re-energize cycling in those cities, providing an ideal transport solution for short trips and a feeder to other public transport options. Cycle sharing is a nonpolluting and healthy mode of transport. Cycle sharing helps increase the profile of cycling, bring new users into the fold. Critical to achieving these goals is ability to maintain high standards in reliability and customer service in the initial round of cycle sharing systems.

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Marking the culmination of an extensive participatory process to identify appropriate models for cycle sharing systems in India, the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, recently released Public Cycle Sharing Systems: A Planning Toolkit for Indian Cities. The guide was launched on 6 December 2012 at the opening of the fifth annual Urban Mobility India conference in Delhi. The guide describes key features of modern cycle sharing systems, including automated check-in and check-out, redistribution of cycles to meet customer demand, and the use of mobile phones, the web, and other platforms to disseminate real-time system information. The guide also outlines important considerations in the planning process, including the need to create a dense network of stations within the system’s coverage area.

ITDP prepared the toolkit on behalf of the Ministry of Urban Development with input from a working group established under the Ministry’s National Public Bicycle Scheme. Chaired by B. I. Singal, Director General of the Institute of Urban Transport, the working group included representatives from urban local bodies, public transport agencies, academia, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

Public Cycle Sharing Systems: A Planning Toolkit for Indian Cities is available for free pdf download from ITDP.

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