Published: 01st June 2020
Why Bengaluru's young and upwardly mobile are using bike-sharing apps to get across town in post-COVID world
We speak to founders of various bike rental services in Bengaluru who have resumed their operations. They tell us about the precautionary measures taken to keep their bikes virus and germs free
Asha has to commute every day to her office but she is afraid of taking public transport as she believes there is a high chance of contracting a Coronavirus infection. That is when she realised the ease of commuting using rental bikes. All she needed to do was book via an app, walk up to the closest bike station, pick a bike and ride quickly to reach her office.
A few days ago, Yulu, Bounce and VOGO, who are all bike rental providers, have resumed their services in Bengaluru and are providing a safe and cheap commute - which is ecologically sensible too!
Yulu never look back
Yulu's bike rental services include electric vehicles that can actually cut down your expenses on fuel. Amit Gupta, Founder, Yulu Rental Bike Services, says, "People can save a lot of money that they would otherwise spend on autos or cabs, by choosing bike rental services. The fear of coming in contact with the virus is not there because a single person will be using the bike. In order to see that our customers are safe, we are following all the guidelines laid by the Ministry of Health Affairs. The bikes are sanitised multiple times in a day. Each bike will have a stamp of the last time and date it was sanitised. Apart from this, we are using disinfectants and sanitisers that are medically tested and approved."
When we asked about providing people with a helmet, Atul considers their option of choosing electric vehicles as fortunate. He explains, "The electric vehicles don't fall under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 and the speed is below 25 km per hour. Hence, we have never provided helmets to our users. If people wants to wear one, then they can buy their own helmet."
Incidentally, Yulu offers these services not only from drop point A to drop point B, they even have packages for long term users, "People can pay a particular amount for renting these bikes either for a week, 15 or 45 days. Once their term is completed, they can return these bikes. For instance, if the person is taking the bikes for 45 days continuously, then they will be charged Rs 89 per day and it changes according to the time period."
This is the new way to Bounce
Bounce, which is another bike rental service start-up in Bengaluru, has adapted a systematic way of sanitising their bikes. Anil G, Co-founder and COO of Bounce says, "Before we adopted our own methods of sanitisation, we studied the bike rental companies in China and USA to know how they have been cleaning the bikes. We learnt that we can use an antimicrobial solution that can be coated on two-wheelers. Therefore, we bought it from one of the companies in the USA and applied the solution coat on all our bikes."
He further adds, "This antimicrobial solution kills any kind of germs or virus and it prevents from sticking to the surface of the bike. We apply this solution in the form of paint on the bikes and a single coat of the solution can be beneficial for up to three months. There is a QR code on the bike which is called a germ sheet. One can scan the code and get details about the sanitisation of the bike."
Anil calls it a long term solution, unlike the regular sanitisation of bikes. "Regular sanitisation is practically a huge task and it is prone to human errors. Apart from this, we are educating our users about how safe our bikes are and it is mandatory for them to wear masks and gloves."
If you are on Bounce and roam without a helmet, the traffic police will impose a fine. Hence, they have started selling helmets so that a person can own or buy one. Anil explains, "It is difficult to sanitise the helmets as the solution is a liquid one. Now, we are selling these Bounce helmets through our website. The helmets that you would buy for Rs 800 to Rs 900 is available for Rs 250 to Rs 300 on our website. It is to ensure that the riders who choose our services are safe and strong."
A ride from home on VOGO
VOGO is another service that's fast catching up. After the COVID-19 lockdown, they have announced that they will be delivering bikes at your doorstep. Anand Ayyadurai, Founder and CEO explains, "We sanitise these bikes twice before we deliver. While we sanitise them multiple times at our stations, the person who is there to deliver our bike sanitises them again. Apart from this, the person who comes to deliver the bikes at homes wears a mask and gloves."
With the increase in the demand for VOGO bikes, the team is providing a long term subscription plan. They can use these bikes for a week, month or so rather than using it for an hour or a short time for a day. What about the helmets? Anand has come up with a wise solution to it and he says, "In terms of point to point services, we don't provide helmets and the rider themselves have to bring it. However, if the person has paid subscription fee, then we provide them with the helmet as it would not have been used by more than one person."