During my last visit to Barcelona, I was very impressed with ‘Bicing’ a public bike-sharing program.
At different areas of the city, I saw the bike stand with about 10-15 bicycles parked. I was naturally curious. My cousin informed me that this was an alternate mode of public transport where one picks up the bicycle from one stand for up to three hours and can leave it at another stand at his destination. There is an annual fee of 45 euros, and there is no limit to the number of trips.
What was interesting was that some of the regular cyclist used condoms made especially for bicycle handlebars to prevent themselves from carrying germs or contagious disease.
This set me thinking if such program could work in Mumbai?
Too much unruly traffic, with arrogant auto-rickshaws, rash drivers and the poor Mumbai infrastructure can make cyclist life difficult.
But if it could work, it would add a brownie point to the comfortable commuting in suburbs. There are many cyclist groups in Mumbai but they dare to cycle around the city only during public holidays.
It has its advantages.
Cycling is highly effective health enhancement; it helps you stay fit and also anger-free (the unnecessary arguments during the bus, train, taxi and auto-rickshaw journeys can be very stressful sometimes.) Bike traffic is CO2 free traffic and also can lower the pollution of the city.
But I am not sure of thefts.
I have seen steel-bus-stops and streetlights disappear from unguarded roads of Mumbai. Can we prevent the people from stealing bikes and selling its parts in pieces?
This is the reason why people in Mumbai don’t own bicycles.
Having a bicycle, as a public transport will require lot of policing. If there are bicycle stands at every police station, and with the internet-network for monitoring use of the rented bicycle, the idea might work.
But in India, manpower is required for every service; unattended service might not work effectively like they do in Barcelona or in other European countries.
Nevertheless, I am still hopeful that this system arrives in Mumbai, especially in suburbs.