In recent years, the concept of public bike sharing has become more common in urban areas of developed countries. Now that the coronavirus has brought the practice of social distancing, the city of Chennai (capital city of Tamil Nadu) brought up a bike sharing program in order to fight this health crisis. Read more to learn about this program that the capital city will be implementing and some of the flaws that this might prevail in the near future.
What’s This Bike Sharing Program?
The Corporation of Chennai has launched a bicycle sharing program in 10 locations where about 1000 electric bicycles are currently in use. Although Lockdown 5.0 gave some relaxations from the curfew, a recent spike in cases around the country brought this discussion back to the table where the lockdown might in force after June 15th. With that being said, public transport across the country will be paralyzed for the 2nd time. Compared to developed countries like the United States, many people in India rely on public transportation since many aren’t capable of affording a vehicle.
During these quarantine months, transportation has become a key issue for these common people as they had to be closed down for social distancing. Even if some of these services were open, many are afraid to travel on public transportation since they don’t want to catch the coronavirus. Therefore, the Corporation of Chennai has decided to adopt an environmentally friendly transportation plan for people to travel short distances.
The Corporation of Madras has restarted their bicycle sharing scheme which was suspended during the curfew. Although there are about 50 electric bicycle centers in Chennai, only 10 of them has been restarted for starters. The Chief Engineer has stated that about 500 new electric bicycles are added in these locations where they will be charging 1 rupee per minute.
What’s The Fault With This Program?
Although this initiative sounds great on paper, this program still doesn’t answer the key issue of this epidemic. Yes, I do agree that riding their own bicycles will lead to more social distancing compared to traveling in a local bus or train. However, these bicycles will be issued to the public where there is no guarantee that the person who used the bike before you have either coughed or sneezed on it.
To comment on some safety features that this program will follow, the manager of Smart BIke Operations, Ram, stated that these electric bicycles will be cleaned everyday with disinfectant. Also, the people who use them are required to wear a mask and are recommending them to clean the bike’s handle and seat if they are concerned about the coronavirus.
Although this sounds great, we don’t know if this cleaning routine will work and who will be doing this intense cleaning of 500 bicycles every single day. At this point of time, I feel that the level of cleanliness resides with the people themselves where they should be responsible of cleaning these bikes before using them.
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