While cycling might not be that famous a sport among the current generation right now, it is important to bring that trend back considering the traffic and pollution situation that our cities are facing and the health issues we’re piling on because of our busy schedules.

Gauging the opportunity that lies ahead, several firms have come up with bicycle-sharing services of their own. Bangalore-based self-drive car rental startup Zoomcar is one such startup. The startup recently launched a tech-enabled bicycle-sharing service called Pedl.

After months of planning and testing out the model, Zoomcar has finally launched India's first app-based cycle renting platform. Though the startup is initially starting with 500 bicycles across three cities – Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata, it eventually plans on having at least 10,000 cycles on the road by the end of this year.

To be made available at Rs 10 for half an hour (Rs 20 per hour), the startup aims to make a Pedl bicycle available every 50 to 100 meters in Indian cities.

But, are Indian roads ready for bicycle rentals?

While on the face of it, Indian roads don’t seem so ideal for cycling, but Zoomcar co-founder and CEO, Greg Moran believes that it is more of a ‘chicken and egg kind of situation’ – “China didn’t have many cycle lanes when they started cycle rentals. As the service grew infrastructure was also built. It will happen here too. We got to take the leap. A business model has to come from the private sector. The government then works to create an ecosystem, like it is doing for e-cars.”

Zoomcar is hoping that bicycle rentals end up having a greater impact on Indian users than what was witnessed in China. While bicycle companies in the US offer their users a model where they can drop a bicycle anywhere and it gets automatically locked. The bike can then be unlocked via a QR code. However, in India, Pedl is planning to have drop points where bicycles can be easily parked.

“We look at India independent of China. If you look at our model it is different from what is done there. In China, the bicycles are abandoned. There is no thought process on making a user’s cycling experience consistent. We wanted to take a civic-minded approach, especially because India has infrastructural issues,” said Moran.

Moran also revealed that at present Zoomcar is in the midst of discussions with various governmental bodies to develop policies and design urban infrastructure that can prove helpful in propagation of dock-less cycle sharing across the Indian subcontinent.

While after cars, Zoomcar seems to be focused on capturing the bicycle rental market, it has no plans of entering into bike and scooter rentals anytime soon. This is preliminary because of regulatory hurdles that restrict the use of two-wheelers as commercial vehicles in India. However, according to Moran the firm has already evaluated the option and had also put it in a testing mode.

China’s bicycle rentals on-demand startup, Ofo, which is popularly also referred to as the Uber for Bikes, will soon enter the Indian market. The company, which became a unicorn earlier this year might grace the Indian market with its presence by the first half of next year.

While China’s bicycle rentals on-demand startup, Ofo is gearing to enter India early next year, its Indian counterpart self-drive car and bike rental firm Drivezy has decided to get ready for the challenge by raising a whooping Rs 65 crore ($10 million) in a part-equity and part-debt round recently.

It seems, the competition in the bike rental business in the country is going to spruce up like never before.

This development was first reported in MoneyControl.

[Image: NDTV Gadgets]

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