Bike Sharing Cruises Into India

Cycle Chalao brings pedal power to India’s poorest for pennies.
Cycle Chalao plans to bring 2,000 bikes to residents within two years. (Photo: Flickr via cyclechalao)
Oct 25, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.

Bike-sharing programs are popping up left and right, and that’s a good thing.

Starting in France, and then spreading across Europe before arriving stateside in 2008, it was only a matter of time before India—and social entrepreneur Raj Janagam—got in on the action.

Currently a fellow at the Unreasonable Institute, Janagan started Cycle Chalao after becoming frustrated with his inability to cover short distances in Mumbai, where over 10 million people use local trains and public buses for transportation.

After successfully launching in the city last year, the entrepreneur has set his sights on expanding to Pune—the bike capital of India.

Working with the Pune City Municipal Corporation, Janagan has designed a unique, high-impact bike-sharing system for the city of five million, the only one in the country with dedicated bike lanes.

Cycle Chalao's bikes are open for business. (Photo: Flickr/Cycle Chalao)

Through government and city grants, he was able to waive Cycle Chalao’s $3 monthly fee for users, making the program virtually free (the only cost will be $10 over a five-year-period). Unlike similar programs, each bike hub will be monitored by an attendant to discourage thieves.

Now working with the Ministry of Urban Development to find ways to bring the program to other cities, Janagan hopes to bring pedal power to many more of India’s 1.2 billion citizens. (Maybe after he’s done there he can help us here in the States? We can only hope.)

Think bike sharing could work in your town? Let us know in the comments below.