A PROJECT to popularise cycling as a means of local commute in Thane city is set to enter its next stage with 23 new cycle stands soon to be inaugurated by the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) under its “ilovecycling project”.
However, while TMC authorities and the partner firm claim that there is 100 per cent usage of the existing cycles parked at the stands, residents of the satellite city say the cycles are simply lying idle, with patrons waiting for the introduction of cycling lanes and other amenities.
Under the Smart City programme, the TMC, in a public-private partnership, launched the “ilovecycling project” in August 2017. “The idea is that one can use a cycle from any stand and deposit it at another. A small pre-decided amount will be charged to the user’s smart card. For that, the users will have to register on the ilovecycling app and recharge the smartcard issued to them,” said a civic official.
As of now, six stands are operational near Viviana Mall and other places, said vendor-partner Prasad Kulkarni from Sign Post India. “We are going to start 23 more stands by the end of this month. Our aim is to have around 50 stands across Thane,” Kulkarni said.
Kulkarni, who claimed that the cycle stands in existence are very popular, added: “It has become a family outing now. People come along with their families and enjoy cycling across the city. In fact, on weekends, we have to supply extra cycles.”
However, some residents and cyclists claim this is not enough. “To encourage people to cycle, there has to be cycling roads and other facilities. One cannot just provide cycles and expect people to get interested,” Shobha Mudgal, a cycling enthusiast and a Thane resident, said.
She added: “Most of the days, the cycles keep standing idle at the stands near Viviana Mall. So many of my friends don’t even know about the app.”
Some people also claim that the app-based system is difficult to navigate. “What if I use a primitive phone and can’t download the app? The cycle should be available more easily,” said Ajit Pawar, a Majiwada resident. TMC officials, however, claim that the cycles are GPS tracked and thus registered with a system.
“The cycles are tracked and we need to know who has taken them, hence the app. We have not received complaints about the app,” said a civic official.
Meanwhile, 10 stands at various locations are ready and waiting to be rolled out by the end of this month. “We are waiting for the other 13 to be finished after which all the stands would be linked to one another and a person can take a cycle from anywhere and drop it to any stand,” an officer said.
Sandeep Malwi, spokesperson for the TMC, said: “This is a partnership programme in which we are responsible for providing space to the firm that handles everything else, from providing cycles to the maintenance of records. Our aim is to make Thane a green city, and encourage cycling, which we are working on. The cycles have been successful and they will continue to be so, as and when we keep increasing the number of stands and make the network more accessible.”