With the large number of illegal two-wheeler rentals coming up across the town, the general public has been facing a number of problems in terms of traffic and erratic driving.
Every weekend, most tourists make a beeline to the various two-wheeler rental agencies and hire out bikes that can be used to travel around the town. With very few checks on the side of the rental agencies, these bikes are often misused.
Even though the government has not approved of renting out two-wheelers, through various online advertisements and even recommendations from hotels tourists are directed to these shops.
Over the weekends, the cases of drunken driving are on the increase.
The tourists using the two-wheelers are mostly from outside Puducherry and they often do not know the owner of the bike they are riding. Since there is no track of the motorbikes that are rented out, they are difficult to trace back, a police official said.
There are other issues as well— triples riding and other traffic violations that take place using rental bikes. In addition, the problem is compounded with a lack of a safety net for the tourists using the service. If there is an accident because of drunk driving or any other reason, there is no way the bike rentals can claim insurance.
Another problem that arises out of this practice is the problem of parking. Most of these agents use the road or the platform to park their bikes. There are close to 30 bike rental agencies across the town, and with each rental agent having over 30 bikes for hire there is little parking for the general public around these shops, the official added.
In 2012, the Transport Department issued an order banning two-wheeler rentals. For sometime they were not being operated. But now, they have all opened up, the official said.
According to a regular visitor from Bangalore, Prashanth, since the auto rickshaws here are very expensive, it is easier to get a two-wheeler. “Often, my friends have hired a bike without even having to show their licence. With a deposit, the rental agents are willing to lend out bikes, which is convenient,” he said.
Each of the rental agents has a different rate for different bikes, so it’s possible to get a good deal on these bikes. The easiest way to find out about the bike rentals is to ask the auto drivers at the bus stand, and they will direct you, Mr. Prashanth added.
So far, even though there are provisions in the Motor Vehicle Act to allow the renting of two-wheelers, there has been no action to do so on the part of the government. If the government takes steps to regulate the rental of two-wheelers in a way that makes it possible for the tourists to rent out bikes legally, then it will go a long way to fix the issue, but so far there have not been any serious steps in that direction, an official said.
According to P. Devanathan of People’s Pulse, an NGO, until the auto meter rates are fixed in a way that is fair to the public, the two-wheeler rentals will continue to be popular.