In a city like Mumbai, where I live, kaali peelis cabs and autorickshaws often refuse to travel short distances (people in other metros will have faced similar experiences). Pedl, a cycle sharing service, hopes to make such problems a thing of the past. You can use the app to locate a cycle that’s nearby, pay Rs. 10 for half an hour using PayTM, scan a QR code using your phone, and you’re ready to roll. While you may not be able to solely depend on the service, you can certainly think of leaving your car at home, or avoid taking that autorickshaw, for small errands.
Started by Zoomcars, which already owns a popular car rental service, Pedl aims to have at least 10,000 cycles across the country by the end of the year; presently, it has 500 cycles on the road in Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai. These cycles have custom-designed aluminium alloy frames, with drum brakes, anti-slip chains, airless solid tyres and height adjustable seats.
The services will operate through the night, except for a few places where they may not be feasible. If a rider damages the bicycle, the cost will be recovered from the security deposit. Cycles can be picked up and dropped at any Pedl location, which will be present at short distances. To facilitate this, Pedl also allows anyone with extra space the option of becoming a host, and to thus get free Pedl rides for a year, discounts on Zoomcar rentals, free holiday packages and more.
“In recent times, we’ve observed a huge market gap for trips shorter than 5 km, and we firmly believe that the cycle 2.0 is best positioned to serve these cases. Pedl strongly compliments our core car sharing service, as we continue to make a meaningful contribution to air quality improvement across Indian cities. At present, we’re speaking to various governmental bodies to craft policies and design urban infrastructure that will help ensure the responsible propagation of dockless cycle sharing across the country,” says Greg Mooran, the CEO and co-founder of Zoomcars.
If the service becomes popular, there is a chance of it facing opposition from autorickshaw and taxi unions, but Mooran doesn’t seem to be too bothered, since he believes that people use these taxis and rickshaws for longer commutes, where they have to travel more than 4 km. He also believes that the company won’t take too long to break even, despite the low rentals, because the cycles are inexpensive. Even if they get 4-5 customers per day, they should recover that amount in a few months time. On paper, the service looks superb, and something that can revolutionise the way we travel on our roads (it’s already very popular in China). Will Indians take to the concept? Only time will tell.