No big numbers, no complicated statistics, and no overly formal PowerPoint presentations. Raj Janagam, Jui Gangan, and Jyotika Bhatia have a simple solution to a messy scene – use a bicycle.
At 6:00 pm outside Mumbai’s Vile Parle station, the trick is to charm one of the autorickshaw drivers for a ride; a crowd of commuters jostle with each other with friendly smiles in aspiration of a ride. Bhatia, Gangan, and Janagam, students of social entrepreneurship at NMIMS Mumbai, were frustrated by the superfluous struggle. They synonymously agreed, “Every evening was a battle to convince the autorickshaw driver for a 10-minute ride to the hostel that took longer in a rickshaw than walking.” The students set out to battle traffic jams with a cheaper, environmentally friendly option: the humble bicycle.
Bhatia, Gangan, and Janagam knew commuters would opt for a bicycle for that last kilometre from station to home, if given the resources. They were the first in Mumbai to initiate the ‘community bicycle’ concept with Cycle Chalao, a social venture promoting cycling in India.
After innumerable surveys and extensive research, the trio have designed a revenue-based model. Registered members of Cycle Chalao can, for a minimal monthly fee, obtain an access card and rent a cycle from one of the docking centres for as long as they require. They can then return the cycle to any of the other docking stations, as convenient to them.
Bhatia informs optimistically, “We have bought 30 cycles and offer our services to residents of a distant suburb in Mumbai, Mulund. We also have a promising population of 8,000 students of Kelkar College, in Mulund to convert.”
On June 13th, Jagnam embarked on a venture that took Cycle Chalao to brand new horizons in Colorado, USA. Cycle Chalao is one of 27 initiatives chosen in 2011 by the Unreasonable Institute. The Unreasonable Institute is an organisation dedicated to giving high-impact entrepreneurs wings with funding and support.
Jagnam shares, “We are planning to partner with businesses to introduce modernised lock systems for the cycles. We want to connect with people across the world who have embedded systems like Cycle Chalao within their communities.”
Furthermore, Jaganam notes, “Hiranandani residents from Mumbai will soon be seen bicycling around with Cycle Chalao. We are going to have over 100 cycles and five docking stations in the vicinity.”
If the organisation achieves the goals they have set out with, Mumbaikars will be able to breathe a cleaner sigh of relief in a few years.
For a cycle ride around your neighbourhood, check out http://cyclechalao.com
Volume 1 Issue 1