Smart-Bike Sharing for Tehran

Smart-Bike Sharing for TehranSmart-Bike Sharing for Tehran

The head of Tehran Cycling Board, affiliated to the Cycling Federation of Iran, announced that 120 bike sharing terminals will be set up across the capital as part of a bicycle-sharing initiative known as “Smart Bike Program” under the auspices of Tehran Municipality’s transport and traffic department.

“By the end of the current Iranian year (March 20), 120 additional bike storage racks will be ready and operational,” said Omid Seraji, IRNA reported.

A bicycle-sharing system, public bicycle system, or bike-share scheme, is a service in which bicycles are made available (normally at very low cost) to people on short-term basis. Bike share schemes allow people to borrow a bike from point A (a storage hub) and return it at point B.

A couple of years ago, to encourage bicycles as a mode of transport in the bigger cities of Tehran, Mashhad and Yazd, as part of the clean commute drive, a system was initiated to construct bike lending centers and to provide bicycles in education centers and travel zones.

In Tehran, 50 terminals were set up across the city mostly in crowded downtown areas and near interchange subway stations and tourist sites that offer a total of 7,000 gearless bicycles. The terminals are still situated at several main city squares including 7-e-Tir, Tohid, Enqelab, and Azadi.

The system however, seemed to have failed to bring about the desired results as few people chose to commute by bicycles. There were also a number of shortcomings in the scheme in terms of returning and retrieval of the bikes.

Deputy head of Tehran’s transport and traffic department, Jafar Tashakkori Hashemi had promised in October 2014 that his department was looking to construct bike racks instead of bicycle lending centers across the city, “so that citizens’ access to bikes will become easier.” The number of bicycles in the capital has increased to about 10,000, he had said then.

The new scheme, launched on August 8, 2015 in Tehran in the presence of Tehran City Council deputy chairman Morteza Talaei as the first smart bicycle-sharing system in the country, appears to be an improvement over the previous initiative.

“Using bikes as a clean means of transport will contribute to people’s mental and physical health as well as help alleviate air pollution,” Talaei said at the inauguration ceremony.

The scheme in Iran makes use of the German bike-sharing system ‘Nextbike’. Within this system, bicycle users normally use the subscription system. The bike is rented via a mobile phone call or the mobile app, which provides the locking code and times the usage. Returning the bike to a docking station is done by phone (voice or data).

 Smart Apps Mapping

Bike-sharing systems usually use a smart system that allows the bicycles to be returned to any station, which facilitates one-way rides. Many bike-share systems offer subscriptions that make the first 30–45 minutes of use free, which encourages it use as a mode of transport. This allows each bike to serve several users per day. In many systems, smartphone mapping apps show nearby stations with available bikes and open docks.

“New stations will be located at least 150 meters apart so people can easily borrow and return the bikes,” Seraji added.

He said 200 billion rials ($5 million) was allocated to upgrade and purchase the smart bicycles (with GPS and locking systems) for the program by the TCC this year. The amount is planned to increase in the upcoming fiscal year (starts March 21).

Bike-share began in Europe in 1965 and a viable format emerged in the mid-2000s thanks to the introduction of information technology. As of mid-2014, public bike sharing systems were available in 50 countries on five continents, including 712 cities, operating approximately 806,200 bicycles at 37,500 stations. The countries with the most systems are Spain (132), Italy (104), and China.

Many of the membership-based systems are operated through public-private partnerships by signing contracts with private advertising agencies which supply a city with thousands of bicycles free of charge (or for a small fee). In return, the agencies are allowed to advertise on the bikes themselves.

“Tehran Municipality’s deputy office for transportation has signed contracts to import 4,000 specialized and updated bikes from Germany, with ad space,” he said.

The new stations will be built along the bus and subway lines in municipal districts 6, 7, 11, and 12.

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