How a Beijing bike share app helps ‘address last-mile connectivity’ in India

Beijing bike share platform ofo has launched its signature yellow bike service in India’s western city of Pune.

Founded in 2014 by Peking University graduate and CEO Dai Wei, the start-up — the name of which visually represents a person mounted on a bike — now has more than 30 million mobile subscribers across China, Singapore and the US.

The company signed an agreement at the start of the year with the Pune Municipal Corporation and Smart City Pune to launch in the gated community of Magarpatta. Introducing ofo to Pune’s three million citizens is expected to promote cycling as an alternative to car and bus transport, and to reinvigorate Pune as India’s once-celebrated ‘City of Cycles’.

“Non-motorised modes of transportation such as bicycles should be adopted for short distances and we should make it an integral part of our life to address last-mile connectivity,” — Rajendra Jagtap, CEO of Pune Smart City.

Ofo bikes do not require docking in order to be locked. Users lock and unlock their freestanding bike using a Q Card-reading app compatible with platforms such as WeChat and Alipay. The platform resembles car service app Uber, in that users can locate and access any bike using GPS.

Mr Rajendra Jagtap, CEO of Smart City Pune and Satish Magar, Managing Director of Magarpatta City, take seats of ofo bikes at the launch

People in Magarpatta’s 40,000-strong community are accustomed to walking to essential destinations such as school, work and local amenities. Beyond this testing ground however, Pune is struggling to incorporate sustainable urban living into its rapid growth journey. The city adds 700 new private vehicles to its roads every day, resulting in close to one car to every person. Traffic now leads the city’s main causes of health problems, fatal accidents and air pollution.

To tackle this, the Pune Municipal Corporation is preparing a programme with the Indian government’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs that will be expected to roll out dedicated cycle lanes connecting an urban network of publically shared bike schemes that ofo has helped set in motion.

In 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with ofo to raise collaborative funds for educational campaigns, which aim at introducing children to the topics of climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions.

The original version of this article first appeared in Cities Today.

Cities Today is a global magazine containing analysis, comment and best practices on sustainable urban development. Views expressed in this article from Cities Today 
do not necessarily reflect those of ITU.