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Hyderabad Metro rekindles citizens' love for cycling - this startup shows the way

Hema Vaishnavi
20th Dec 2017
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Cycles on rent outside metro stations, customised experiences for corporates, and special events for the public: Cykul is promoting cycling for good health and as an eco-friendly method of transport.

The launch of Hyderabad Metro Rail services may change the way people commute in this city. But opting for public transport isn’t always easy, especially when last-mile connectivity is a problem.

Enter companies like Cykul, which are launching cycling services at metro stations, to ensure firstand last-mile connectivity, and promote an eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Looking at cycling as a viable means of transport

Cykul was founded in 2015 by Deenanath Harapanahalli, with the purpose of providing people with a platform to embrace cycling as a means for good health, active lifestyle, and convenient transit options.

Deena, who has always been interested in cycling, was interested in creating a community of cyclists.

India had, thousands of years ago, so many communities in the form of gurukuls…from the same concept, we have launched Cy-Kul. Towards the end of 2015, Cykul’s mission was defined, says Deena, who was previously working as Country Head, Invesco.

His career also included stints in private equity, M&A, and technology products/services for the financial services industry. He holds an undergraduate degree in engineering and an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Challenges and impact

One of the earliest challenges – and one that persists to this day – is changing the idea that the cycle is a poor man’s vehicle/symbol. The other one is implanting the idea that acycle is everybody’s friend, he says.

The mark of a developed society, Deena says, is not that even the poorest person has a car. It is that the richest of the citizens travel by foot, cycle or public transportation.

 

“Over time, society seems to have cast the humble bicycle as the least desirable vehicle whereas it is ahuman being’s best friend. Combating that decades-old mindset and reversing that trend has been one of the challenges,” Deena says.

But he – and Cykul – have managed to do that.

Cykul, a bootstrapped initiative, has come a long way in the past two years; it has mobilised more than 1 lakh people to re-experience cycling.

Cykul in partnership with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories launched a cycle sharing programme, Redibike, in Hyderabad in December, 2016. With over 1,000 cycles, 25-plus km road coverage, and 20-plus stations, Redibike has witnessed more than 600 registrations already.

To use the Redibike one needs to purchase a monthly pass online via a mobile app or at www.redibike.in. A smart card is issued after verification of documents.

More and more people are subscribing to the service as a means of urban commute.

Cykul has made it easy for people to embrace cycling by offering maintenance services. It has also designed and implemented specialised and customised cycling experiences for corporates and other affinity groups.

Deena says Cykul has been able to get more than a lakh people back on the cycle, have organised more than 150 events, witnessed participation from over 300 corporates, and have successfully partnered with various affinity groups.

Cykul projects

“One of the business units of Cykul is ‘Experiences’, in which we have all kinds of cycling experiences that cater to the customer’s requirements and needs. The experiences range from short-duration, simple family rides to high-end cycling experiences,” Deena says.

While Cykul is a for-profit company, it also supports non-profit companies through their events. Their beneficiaries include United Way, Akshay Patra, and Ashray Akruti.

Cykul also supports five government schools through its associations.

"Many of Cykul’s events have championed the cause of NGOs,” Deena says.

Cykul annually organises four mega rides positioned as charitable rides. The Freedom Ride is organised on August 15 every year; this year, in its ninth edition, it saw participation from 11,000 cyclists.

The Peace Ride is conducted, in various formats, on October 2every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Republic Ride, on January 26every year, covers 100 km, while the Unity Ride (October30) is a 200km-plus ride to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The ride is organised in Ahmedabad from the Statue of Unity and ends at the same place.

Currently, Cykul is running an app-based service for employees of DLF at Gachibowli, Hyderabad, and has deployed about 1,000 cycles at the metro stations as part of the bicycle-sharing programme.

The startup also provides cycles for rent at the new Pala Pitta Cycling Park in Hyderabad, with nearly 1,000 cycles available.

For now, all eyes are on Cykul’s next event – the Republic Ride to be held on January21, 2018, at Gachibowli Stadium, Hyderabad. Cykul aims to spread to other parts of the cities with increased number of bicycles, and soon plans to spread to other metro cities as well.

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