On the occasion of India’s
first Global Mobility Summit, organised by the government’s think tank, the
NITI Aayog at New Delhi, Pankaj M Munjal, Chairman, Hero Motor Company made an impassioned plea to policy makers to help the public
adopt cleaner more affordable mobility models of which e-bikes and other
bicycles were integral components.
Munjal, concluded that the
three things required to make universal access to bicycles easy would be to
promote micro-finance so that the menial worker could also afford this vehicle,
enabling of safety on roads by making distinct cycling lanes and signals in
every municipal plan, and, integrate last mile connectivity of public transport
with bicycles. He estimated that 10 million could climb up the ladder of
economic value with the aid of this prescription. He also promised to ramp up
the current production of electric bicycles to meet expected demand post the
NITI Aayog’s proposals to boost electric vehicle use.
Mobility affects many facets
of inclusive and sustainable development including access to jobs,
opportunities, markets, education and healthcare. Smart city design and the
creation of living spaces require integral components for easy movement. The
ability to commute also plays a role in pulling people out of poverty.
“About 32 crore people walk
daily to work, to school or to commute distances up to 6 kilometers. Studies
have revealed that if 12% of them are given access to wheels, the national GDP
moves up by 100 basis points. Environmental pollution, fossil fuel depletion,
lifestyle disease and traffic congestion are urgent problems owing their
genesis to current models of transport which do not accommodate space for
cleaner, more affordable, low maintenance alternatives to motor vehicles, in
particular, bicycles and even e-bikes, which give similar performance to
scooters at a fraction of the cost”, Munjal said.
While one can easily get a
loan for a motorcycle, none are forthcoming for buying an e-bike. Bicycles can
form a critical part of intermodal and multimodal conveyance where a user
covers parts of her journey on different optimal modes chosen according to the
Currently, Hero Cycles offers
one of the cheapest e-bikes in the market – the E-Zephyr, priced at Rs 27,000
and a running cost of just Rs 7 for each 100 kilometers of travel, which is
just 1/50th of the cost of maintaining a motorcycle. E-bikes are also leaner
and better able to reduce traffic volume.
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