Local Collaboration Launches Public Bicycling System at IISc, Bangalore
Photo: Ashwin Prabhu / EMBARQ India
6th August 2012 | Bangalore: To increase connectivity and create an environmentally friendly mode of public transport in the city of Bangalore, Namma Cycle, a public bicycling initiative was launched this morning at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Professor P. Balaram, Director, IISc, and Shankar Linge Gowde, (IAS), Commissioner, BBMP, were the chief guests; and also present were Munendra Kumar, Chairman, Finance and Taxation Committee, BBMP, Dr. Ashwath Narayan, MLA, Malleswaram, Rajesh Mani, Marketing (GM), TI Cycles, and Manivannan P., MD, BESCOM, along with students, faculty, and other stakeholders in the project.
The name of the initiative is inspired from the word ‘namma’, which means ‘ours’ in Kannada, and signifies the concept of shared ownership. The pilot initiative was launched by Ride A Cycle Foundation (RACF), the implementing partner, with 150 cycles sponsored by TI Cycles India, part of the Muruguppan Group based out of Chennai, and 4 bicycle station racks sponsored by BCIL, a biodiversity company based in Bangalore. Other partners in this initiative are Ashwin Mahesh, a public policy professor at IIM, Bangalore, and the CEO of Mapunity; EMBARQ India, a non-profit that helps implement sustainable urban mobility solutions; Gubbi Labs, a private research collective; and CiSTUP, a centre of advanced research and training in transportation engineering.
Initial studies and observations have revealed that the Institute already has a large number of privately owned cycles used by students to move around the campus. A large percentage of students enrolled in the two-year Masters programme tend to buy cycles for around 3000-5000 rupees. The Namma Cycle team aims to incentivise the costing to encourage more takers.
The project works on a simple Sign-Up, Select, Ride and Return system where students can sign-up via the website nammacycle.in and get a registration ID, select a cycle from any of the station racks, ride the cycle to their destination and return it to the nearest station.
Based on the success of the pilot, the project will be expanded to a 2km radius around the campus to students and faculty living in the area. This then has the potential to grow into a wider network, which would involve greater partnerships with the local municipal authorities to improve road infrastructure for cyclists.
Bangalore’s open parks, lakes and good weather make for a good cycling environment. However, with increased urbanisation and motorisation, cycle usage in Bangalore has come down from 9% to less than 2%. Although the parks and lakes still exist, it is connecting these spaces with cycle-friendly roads that would attract more users. As public bicycling schemes are still a very new concept in India, the biggest challenge will be in understanding how to make the system work in the Indian context. Starting with IISc and building capacity, the team hopes to expand this project to other parts of the city as well.