Bike sharing has become the new trend in today’s world where everyone is moving towards green Commute. and we are now witnessing more bike sharing apps than ever. The seemingly simple concept has swept across the globe in just a few years. What is more astonishing is that, the concept of globalisation has also played a pivotal part in bringing about the much-needed change.
This global change is a brilliant example to show how the right idea with the right technology can move mountains, and in this case bring about a change that is not just saving individuals but the planet altogether! Going back to the time when it all started- it was in the late 1960s, when a group of activists in Amsterdam introduced the Witte Fietsen, or white bikes. They painted a bunch of bicycles white and left them unlocked for everyone to use. The bikes could be used by anyone and everyone- but like all first ideas, there were a lot of limitations. A lot of bikes were damaged and/or broken and the program had to be shut down quickly. But what the Witte Fietsen started was a revolution which was slowly taking its shape. They were the ones to ignite the wildfire- they planted a idea which grew to be a huge success in the later years. It took almost another 30 years for another movement to emerge in the field of bike sharing. The city, today known as the biking city – Copenhagen attempted a major public bike sharing program. Copenhagen’s Bycyklen or the city bikes allowed people to use bicycles from specific locations via a coin-operated system. Though this time they did improvise on the previous attempt in Amsterdam, the problem of theft and vandalism still persisted. This was in 1995, and in the next year, 1996, a trump card was pulled out by the students in the Portsmouth University, UK. Though the service was limited to the students, they were the first to come up with a solution to the theft problem. They introduced an individualised card, very similar to today’s ATM card, which had a magnetic stripe. The users had to swipe the card in order to unlock the bike, which allowed them to be tracked in case the bike wasn’t returned or was damaged.
After the advent of the magnetised card, there was no turning back in this sector. In 1998, Vélo à la Carte in Rennes, France, became the first to introduce magnetised cards and RFID technology. This was a partnership with the city’s advertising company to develop and launch ‘Smart Bikes’ technology. They launched 200 bikes in 25 different stations. The program was just witnessing the high rise, as in 2005, another city in France with a new advertising partner launched 1500 bikes.
The year was 2007, and away they went with all new ideas and mind-boggling developments. Inspired by all the small neighbouring cities, Paris launched its 6000 bike sharing system and a started a worldwide movement towards bike sharing, which ran successfully. It was then predicted that by 2015 the number of bikes would easily cross 18000. In Spain, the entry point of the biking revolution was Barcelona. The whole program quickly became a nationwide boom n the country.
The bike-sharing phenomena has now covered almost the entire world map and is spreading its wings further. In 2015, globally the number of sharing bicycles hit an estimated 1,000,0000. China was by far the leader with the sheer number of bicycles- 3 out of 4 bicycles in the world were in that nation.
This was the chronological order in which the movement started to take shape and flow out from one city to the other. Then it went from cities to countries to continents and ultimately became a huge global success.
India, on the other hand, was lagging behind. But with the sudden rise in population, the heavy load on the roads and the need to shift the traffic, even India turned to biking. The need was to reduce the congestion on the roads, to make the traffic smoother without negotiating on safety and convenience.
But the winds of change soon came to India. Bike sharing services started popping up all over the country, Yulu being one of the harbingers of change. Yulu has IOT enabled bikes which allows users to use the nearest bikes available on the map of the app by unlocking it through a QR code. YULU uses a digital wallet for its transactions.
Yulu started first in the city of Bangalore and then in Pune. The program is a huge success and now YULU has inspired the citizens to opt for bicycles instead of heavy vehicles. The citizens have responded with great enthusiasm and positive reviews about the bike sharing app. We can now see a lot of bikes running on the roads instead of cars and motorbikes, which gives us an enormous sense of pride. Though the journey was a bumpy one, and it took a lot of time for the entire process to be streamlined, it was worth the wait and struggle. Today, we see a new turn in the global commute program, where people are switching from cars and motorbike to bicycles. . It all started in 1965 and after almost half a decade, the small seed that was planted in Amsterdam is bearing fruit for the entire world. The global bike sharing revolution is changing the world!