NEW DELHI: Bijnor, a small city in Uttar Pradesh, has set an example of how bicycle sharing can be rolled out with little investment at a time when several big cities are struggling to start such initiatives. The “Bikes of Bijnor” scheme utilised 100 refurbished bicycles left behind by migrant labourers, which would have become junk by now.
This experiment in the past one month involving government officers and civil society has received appreciation from central government agencies and even Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari. He pointed out in Parliament that this was an affordable model to promote non-motorised transport in urban areas. These bicycles are currently available to riders without any charge but soon users would have to pay a token Rs 5 for a four-hour ride and Rs 10 for 12 hours.
The scheme was conceived by Vikramaditya Singh Malik, a 2018 batch IAS officer, who took charge as SDM in the district last August. Malik said he spotted a number of bicycles lying at a police post when he was on a tour in October and their conditions had deteriorated. These cycles belonged to migrant labourers who were returning home during the lockdown.
Bijnor lies on the way from Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand and several migrant labourers on cycles took this route to reach their homes in eastern UP and Bihar. The administration had made arrangements to provide food and shelter and to send them to their homes in special trains and buses. Hence, they left their cycles in Bijnor.
“For months, these cycles were stacked up at various centres facing severe wear and tear sometimes. Around 400 cycles were lying abandoned. So, we planned how to utilise them before they became junk,” Malik told TOI.
These cycles were brought to the district headquarters and an independent valuation assessment was done, which was worked out at Rs 600. The district administration tried to reach out to the actual owners to find if they want to take back their cycles or would take Rs 600. Very few owners took back the cycles. The price for each cycle was paid from the DM Covid Relief Fund.
A society was formed and contributions came from different groups to operationalise the scheme.