Ola, other startups may roll out bicycle-rental services

New Delhi, Dec 1: Do you love riding a bycycle? If yes, then very soon Ola and other startups may help you realise your dream to ride a bycyle to places. 

Cab-hailing platform Ola as well as a few other startups are planning to roll out bicycle-rental services in the country, amid recent overseas flops and the high risk of theft that have raised questions about the sustainability of the business. 

Ola is testing a bicycle-rental service called Ola Pedal at the IIT-Kanpur campus. “There are 500-600 cycles available at various spots across the campus. Through the Ola app, just as students would book a cab, they can rent cycles,” said an Ola executive, speaking on condition of anonymity.

According to a report in "The Economic Times", If the pilot, which began in the first week of November, is successful, Ola will likely introduce more sophisticated versions of the service in the coming months across cities, said a person familiar with Ola’s plans. 

“The understanding is that there is scope for cycles to become popular among the youth, so campuses are where the service will be tried and tested before introducing it to the general public,” this person said, declining to be identified.

While the present set of Ola bicycles at IIT-Kanpur do not have sophisticated security features, the next lot is expected to have QR codes and GPS-tracking, he said.

At IIT-Kanpur, users get the first 30 minutes of a cycle ride free as part of the trial run. “It’s highly subsidized, so Ola Pedal would cater to student communities till it picks up. After the first free 30 minutes, for the next 30 minute period the cost is only Rs 5 at the moment,” said the Ola executive mentioned earlier. 

"We are seeing massive interest in Ola Pedal from campuses and cities across the country and we are working on expanding the scope of this offering in the weeks ahead," Ola said in a statement.