Kerala

Public bike-sharing project to come back after a hiatus

Cycling enthusiasts in the city who had held a public bike-sharing project close to their hearts a few years ago have a reason to cheer.

M.S. Athirup, founder of Athi’s Bicycle Club, says the initiative that has been functioning in a very limited way in the city with only members using its services is all set to revive public sharing in the next couple of months. The club operations have been focussed on Kochi where it has tied up with Kochi Metro to provide free short-distance cycle rides.

Free services

In the State capital, the project had always been run with the objective of free services for the public.

With the COVID-19 pandemic drying up sponsorship, Mr. Athirup had been forced to bring operations to a halt. However, he is trying to line up sponsors to resume the service at the earliest.

“The bike-sharing has not been wound up. We have invested a lot of money in the project, and have paid taxes to the city Corporation to maintain the cycle racks to keep it going,” says Mr. Athirup.

The bike club was first launched in Technopark in 2011, and had been popular among techies for intra-campus travel. Sponsorship, mainly from Technopark, helped expand the project to the city. During the pandemic, user numbers too dropped along with the funding, but Mr. Athirup expects to get things back on track by the year-end. “Cycling was a bit slow in taking off in the city, but that is changing in recent times. People are integrating cycling into their daily lives by making small changes, such as carrying a fresh pair of clothes to change into after cycling to office, and so on. This is the best time for bike-sharing project to make a come-back,” says Mr. Athirup. He welcomes the city Corporation’s initiatives to promote cycling, especially in the wake of the pandemic that has spurred an interest in cycling.

Beachside cycling

Promoting beachside cycling circuits in places such as Shanghumughom would also help, he feels.

Athirup says they are also exploring tie-ups with cycle clubs, reading clubs, youth clubs, and so on who will voluntarily provide cycles, and take care of sponsorship support and maintenance, so that cycles can be available to the public for free.


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 10:51:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/public-bike-sharing-project-to-come-back-after-a-hiatus/article36935396.ece

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