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Scope for students to commute on rented cycles in Kolkata #CyKol

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has started a Rent-a-Cycle initiative at metro stations. It started off with stands at three metro stations, Pragati Maidan, IP station and Patel Chowk to encourage people to take up cycling and now it has over 20 stands to rent out cycles. It costs only Rs 10 to rent a cycle for 4 hours.
Mumbai has the Cycle Chalao program. It started off small and for a while, its financial model had been self-sustaining. “That’s because our stands are manual. We earn from subscriptions and advertisements on the bikes. We have people manning them, taking the ID cards, renting out bikes etc. It can’t remain this way if we want to introduce it on a larger scale. Then we would need automatic stands. That would mean a lot more infrastructure and essentially more funds,” said Jui, one of the brains behind the idea.

Kolkata has the…
Nothing yet.
Playing video games, there are stealth missions where you need to blend in with the crowd and restrict your movements so as to not arouse untoward attention towards yourself. Those are the boring parts, where you know you can take down the sentry in front of you but the moment you do so there will be an entire army descending upon you. So you exercise caution and creep ahead on tip toes.


I’ve often felt the same restriction while being late for something and going down a one way lane or through dense traffic. The tingling urge to rip off the cloak of convention and just run ahead towards destination. Earlier my speed used to be checked by the speed breakers of disapproving gazes, shaking heads, pursed lips and basically all around disapproval . Women clutch their purses, men tighten their grip on their briefcases, mothers latch on to their cubs with the ferocity of a tigress, and in general one and all dare you to attempt to snatch their belongings. Which you were obviously intending to do, otherwise you wouldn’t be running around in the heat like a maniac lunatic.

With time I’ve grown immune to their reactions, it’s a small price to pay for being on time. But it would be good to have a way to make it to the destination without being wet with sweat. Bicycles are the obvious answer.

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People in Delhi and Mumbai have recognized the need and have come up with ingenious programs for commuters to rent cycles from certain stands for a very nominal fee and pedal away to their destination. Such a program allows one to take other means of transport halfway and then switch to a cycle on roads where two wheels are better than four.

The major hurdle in the way of such a program is usually finding routes which are convenient for one to cycle through. The roads need to be broad and the traffic should allow for the movement of cycles.

Here’s a plan for a stretch of the city which might be ideal for such a program.


A good stretch of the area highlighted is prime location for one to cycle, and the roads are broad as well.

This area is flanked by three metro stations:
-Rabindra Sadan metro
-Park Street metro
-Maidan metro

These are in a straight line, and the other point is the Park Circus 7 point crossing.
Park street metro to Park Circus- 2.4 km
Park Circus to Rabindra Sadan metro- 2 km
Park Street metro to Rabindra Sadan metro- 1.5 km

Area enclosed= Approximately 14.9 km
Roughly, the area enclosed is 15 kms and it includes over 20 colleges and 31 schools.

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Plan details:

Feasibility and need
- The AJC Bose road is one of the most congested roads in Kolkata.
- It’s a 2 km stretch from Rabindra Sadan to Park Circus and sometimes it takes over 20 minutes to traverse that distance.
- Between the area enclosed by Rabindra Sadan, Park Circus 7 point crossing and Park Street metro, there are over 20 colleges and 30 schools.

Selling points for institutes-
- publicity for pursuing something for the environment.
- getting students to come on time.
- promoting a healthy lifestyle for students.

Plan-
- have cycle stations at the metros and selected institutes.
- let students rent against their ID cards with a one-time deposit.

Things to do:
- Figure out if there are any no cycling zones in the area. If so, how to circumvent them.
- One way and no entry roads (figure out the time when the road is closed). Highlight the advantage of using a cycle on those routes.
- Survey of number of students coming from the three metros and from towards Park circus.
- Figure out other major entry points for traffic.
- List of teachers who cycle to work.
- Get in touch with the sports coordinators of the institutes.
- List of students who cycle to institute.
- Existing cycle stands in the area. Inside and outside of institutes.
- Institutes with enclosed parking.
- Figure out routes where students can comfortably cycle along, from a cycling stand to their institute.

Logistics of having a cycle stand.
-Cost per cycle
-Cost of renting a space to keep the cycles- just a shed, doesn’t have to be a building.
- Cost of number of people required to man each stand:
2 to check IDs and give out cycles to students, (more than one because the selling point is speed of movement, makes no sense for a student to waste time standing in line for a cycle)
1 to keep track and count of cycles and coordinate with other stands.

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On paper, things look simple but a lot of work needs to go into planning such a venture. With the Avon Cycles India Cyclothon coming to Kolkata on 18 March, there’s a lot of room for some such venture to boom ahead. If anyone is taking notes, feel free to go ahead with it. You’ll be doing the city a favour.

Details about the Cyclothon:

  • Email (General): info@indiacyclothon.com
  • Email (For Corporates): corp@indiacyclothon.com
  • Facebook – www.facebook.com/indiacyclothon
  • Twitter – www.twitter.com/indiacyclothon
  • SMS Short Code – CYCLO – 51818
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