Bikes (4) Cycle sharing in India and China

Hangzhou bike sharing system

In 2011 the India Government decided to launch a National Public Bicycle Scheme to promote cycling as the last mile connectivity in 10 cities. On average, 43,7% of indian households had a bicycle in 2001, a figure that rose to 46% in urban areas. The National Government issued a draft toolkit for public cycle sharing systems that studies such systems in other countries, mainly Europe and China.

The context in India is quite different from that in western countries; most cities have no dedicated bike lanes, and the cost of all the items that are used to set up such a system are different, as can be easily understood comparing the purchasing power of the average citizen. China has different situation as investment on capital infrastructures has been stronger, but shares some similaritudes with India (relatively low purchasing power but high tech local firms able to set up advanced control systems). According to the India Public Cycle Sharing Toolkit, the capital costs including all the systems from bike stations to control center and the bikes themselves are as follows:

  • Hanghzhou: Rs 64.000 per bicycle (891 euros)
  • Guangzhou: Rs 58.000 per bicycle (808 euros)
  • Pune (Cycle Chalao estimates 2012): Rs 54.000 per bicycle (752 euros)
  • Ahmedabad (IDTP estimate): Rs 77.000 per bicycle (1.073 euros)

Yearly operating costs per cycle are estimated as follows:

  • Hanghzhou: Rs 9.900 per bicycle (137 euros)
  • Guangzhou: Rs 13.600 per bicycle (184 euros)
  • Pune (Cycle Chalao estimates 2012): Rs 24.000 per bicycle (334 euros) (costs are higher as the system is not fully automated).

The usage fee structure proposed in the toolkit is:

  • Less than 30 minutes: free
  • 30 minutes- 1 hour: Rs 5 (7 euro cents)
  • 1-2 hours: Rs 10 (14 euro cents)
  • More than two hours: Rs 15 (21 euro cents)

According to the toolkit, a high quality cycle sharing system with 5.000 cycles can be established in an indian city for Rs 40 crore (5,5 million euros). Just in order to compare costs, Velib, the Parisian system, started in 2007 with 7.000 bikes and start-up cost estimated at 140 million euros (paid by the firm that got the external advertisement concession for the whole city, not the public administration); a 1 hour ride costs 1 euro.

A bicycle from Cycle Chalao!, a bike sharing system set up in Mumbai and Pune in 2010 that has ceased to exist since, but has provided an interesting local experience.

Bikes (3) Night biking in urban France


And now, for a special study, by a Psychosociologist (Mrs Catherine Espinasse), on night biking at Lyon, Paris and Poitiers. It is worth noticing that bike use in France is way smaller than in the Netherlands or Denmark. The interest of this text is to grasp the motivations to use a bicycle under special conditions that initially seem less adequate. It results from 60 open interviews with urban bikers (30 in Paris, 20 at Lyon and 10 at Poitiers).

The author identifies several biker categories:

  • Unconditional users, using their bicycle everywhere and as an almost exclusive transportation mode.
  • Hedonists, using their bike only when climate is good, but prone to use it by night for leisure
  • Prudent bikers (mainly women) that feel vulnerable and do not use it at night.
  • Sport pretentious bikers (mainly men)
  • Rationalists, which have become unconditional users.

For bikers in Lyon and Paris the bicycle seems a way to solve the lack of night mass transit, and also to rediscover city lights. At Poitiers, night biking seems associated to young users going to clubs and parties. Overall, biking seems not so much a “soft mode” but an “active mode”, as well physically as on citizen involvement terms.

Do you think night biking is possible where you live?

Bikes (2) Denmark

The national biking routes of Denmark

The national biking routes of Denmark

According to the last stats, 16% of all trips in Denmark are by bicycle, and for those under 4 km the share rises to 24%. 44% of all households don’t have a car. With many good conditions for cycling and a population used to it, Denmark is anyway subject to a certain rise in car ownership and use, and cycling on a national level decreased from 1990 to 2008. But even so, bike use has increased in Copenhaguen.

Since 1993 there are 11 national cycle routes, with a total length of 4.233 km. As they usually follow such elements as the coast, with much less stringent layout requirements than car roads, and they are mainly tourism and leisure oriented, they can have great lengths. The initiative’s interest must be weighted with more day to day projects, as Copenhaguen’s Cycle Superhighways, a commuter-oriented project that is to remind to anyone with a certain urban planning culture the “finger plans” so recurrent since the postwar years in this nice city.

Copenhaguen's Cycle Superhighways

Copenhaguen’s Cycle Superhighways

The standard bike lane width is 2,2 m, which have been extended to 2,5-2,8 m in Copenhaguen.

A good reference on Denmark:

Biblio (26) Bike engineering

4-bicicleta ESTEYCO-

I’ll begin by talking about an American; not a bike runner that has become sincere, but a certain Steve Jobs (even if I write in Windows) that apparently said he thought that computers were to be bicycles for the mind. He meant that the energetic output of the human body when moving, poor when compared to that of other animals, was better than that of the condor when using a bicycle. Because that is what a bicycle is for, as it multiplies the human muscular efficiency.

Fundación Esteyco has published in 2010 the book “La Ingeniería de la Bicicleta”, with the contribution of a number of authors. It is a wonderful reference on the object itself, its origins, the problems and solutions raised in engineering terms, and, why not, the sheer aesthetic beauty it sometimes shows.

The last chapters focus on the engineering of the spaces the bikes use (from the Tour de France mountain roads to the urban spaces) and the bike as an urban transportation system. There is also a set of short texts from authors as Hemingway and Delibes, and artistic visions on the bicycle.

A complementary vision (this time in English) can be seen on Pucher & Buehler, Transport Reviews, Vol. 28, No. 4, 495–528, July 2008