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16 Apr 2024, Edition - 3199, Tuesday

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Coimbatoreans hail bicycle-sharing platform, but with skepticism

Renald A. Frank


Coimbatore: Today’s generation is more concerned about the environment than before. Keeping this in mind India has partnered with Ofo, a Beijing-based bicycle sharing platform, in a bid to check pollution. The idea may seem very pleasing, though ground reality could be completely different. Experts said India had always been quick in launching projects but slow in execution and maintenance.

The Chinese company has installed GPS in these ecofriendly Ofo bicycles which can be hired through the Ofo app on smartphones. This will tell a person where the bicycle is kept. One of the most important aspects is that there are no fixed pickup or drop points for these cycles, which makes the entire hiring process simple. Payments can be made through Paytm depending on the number of hours one needed. The bicycle can be unlocked scanning the QR code on the frame.

Manion, an apex member of Siruthuli, a non-governmental organisation working towards a Greener Kovai, told The Covai Post, “It’s a very good initiative as it will promote a cleaner and greener city. It can help one travel from one corner to another without having to change buses at certain pockets of the city.”

While the whole idea has been projected with a positive intent, there are certain challenges that need to be overcome before the project is launched. The system had a great response when launched in Beijing since the capital of China has often been in the news for heavy smog.

However, environmentalist and cyclist Umesh feels the project could turn into a failure across the country, including Coimbatore. “These bicycles have no fixed docks which will lead to traffic congestion everywhere. There are no fixed lanes for cyclists which can result in accidents. If any of the cycles get damaged or punctured, it will lay dumped if our municipal corporations don’t repair it.”

He also mentioned on how India was already reeling under enormous amount of e-waste with no proper recycling methods. “We may not be aware of the hazards caused due to e-waste initially but later on we will face the consequences.

About transportation, he felt Coimbatore needed local trains like Chennai since that would benefit people who travelling from the outskirts like LMW or Thudiyalur into the city.

Local trains were not being introduced since they would result in huge losses for bus and taxi operators, he said, pointing to the fact that railway network in Coimbatore was done by the British who used it regularly for transportation, “but our people have either demolished these tracks or just abandoned them”.

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