Beijing-based bicycle sharing company Ofo, which launched its service in India late last year, has a larger plan in the country — to build the business as well the entire infrastructure around the cycle industry.
The company today announced the partnership with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to support the Pune Cycle Plan.
The cycle plan aims to create the necessary infrastructure for proper cycle tracks, a city-wide cycle network, seamless public sharing bicycle schemes and development of cycle promotion activities.
The company launched its service in November last year in three cities such as Chennai, Indore, and Ahmedabad.
“As more people switch to bikes from cars for short-distance travel, apart from getting exercise, they will also help reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption and air pollution,” said Kunal Kumar, Commissioner of the Pune Municipal Corporation, in a statement.
Mobility has become a major civic issue in Pune recently as facilities for public commuting have not kept pace with the city’s growth.
According to PMC’s Environment Status Report 2016-17, around 700 private vehicles are being added to the roads every day. With the increasing vehicles, the city’s vehicle population is now equal to its human population. This increasing vehicular traffic is leading to air pollution, health problems, accidents, and wastage of time in traffic congestion.
Ofo aims to democratize access to rental bikes by leveraging technology. These bikes are tagged with GPS chips which enable them to be rented through a mobile app without needed to be stored in a central location.
The app allows users to track where its bicycles are parked as well as unlock and lock the two-wheelers. Users pay $1 an hour for the bicycles.
Valued at $2 billion, Alibaba and Didi Chuxing-backed Ofo has connected more than 10 million bicycles to more than 100 million users across 14 countries, including the UK, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, US, among others.
The firm has been planning to deploy 20 million bikes and expand their service to 200 cities in 20 countries by the end of 2017.
The bike sharing company raised $700 million round led by Alibaba. Prior to that, Ant Financial, Alibaba’s finance-focused affiliate, invested in Ofo in April this year.
Besides Ofo, other bike-sharing startups such as Mobike and Bluegogo rule the Chinese market. And despite operational challenges like lack of parking, security among others, bike rental startups are having a ball in China.
Last month, Ola piloted Ola Pedal in IIT Kanpur. The ride-hailing behemoth has made around 600 cycles available at spots around the campus which can be booked through its app. Zoomcar also rolled out app-based cycle renting platform starting with 500 bicycles across three cities – Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata.
In October, self-drive car rental company Zoomcar launched PEDL, a cycle rental service, starting with Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata.
In the same month, Chandigarh-headquartered hyperlocal delivery startup and auto rickshaw aggregator Jugnoo has declared addition of bicycles in its delivery vertical. At present, 50 bicycles are in the system that are doing deliveries in 3 cities- Chandigarh, Noida, and Gurgaon.
The growth of bike sharing concept is the part of the rental economy, which is set to grow manifold in the coming years. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the sharing economy will generate potential revenue of $335 billion by 2025 globally.
Industry experts say that it is imperative that such concepts of bike sharing are tested in the Indian market which will open new avenues in the rental space and led the sharing economy to grow further.