Five months after its launch, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)’s public bicycle-sharing (PBS) system has run into trouble. The civic body has sought police protection for the bicycles stationed at various places in its jurisdiction for use by the public and sought participation from more agencies as the number of bicycles dwindle due to theft and vandalism.
On Monday, the PMC invited entrepreneurs, companies, corporates and bicycle manufacturers as well as individuals for providing and operating bicycles under the PBS at their cost. “Four agencies started operations under the PBS but one of them, OFO (HK) Ltd, has closed down its operations,” said Narendra Salunkhe, superintendent engineer (projects) and in charge of the PBS.
The agencies have been complaining of bicycles being stolen and vandalism, leading to losses. “This has brought down the number of bicycles under the scheme. That’s why we have sought police protection,” he said.
The agencies have also complained of encroachment on cycle tracks. Salunkhe said that the PMC would implement a pilot project to install CCTV cameras to man the cycle tracks and bicycles. The poor condition of cycle tracks is also a cause of concern, so the authorities concerned have been asked to improve the infrastructure and efforts are being done to include the bicycle plan in the development plan of the city, said Salunkhe.
When contacted, an OFO (HK) Ltd official confirmed that it had closed its operations under the PBS but did not give reasons.
At present, the PMC has 94 kilometres of cycle track and plans to link the PBS with the city’s railways, bus, BRT, proposed Metro terminals, schools as well as workplaces to provide “first and last mile connectivity”, Salunkhe said.
The PMC has set a target of making available 8,000 bicycles this year. Mobike has made available 1,200 bicycles, Yulu Bikes Pvt Ltd 680 bicycles and Zoomcar India Pvt Ltd 1,500 bicycles while OFO has withdrawn 500 bicycles.