Bicycle-sharing service Jobike is set to launch in select areas of the capital, with the aim to ease the sufferings of commuters amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Facilitated by Dhaka North City Corporation and the government's ICT Division, the company will commercially launch the app-based service in the city's Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara areas.
The bicycles have a GPS-enabled chip that restrict movement outside of the designated operating areas.
"When Covid-19 grips the whole country and experts suggest strict maintenance social distance, the bike service will benefit people amid the crisis in mass transit," DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam told The Daily Star. "The fare is set by the minute at Tk 1," he said.
Atiqul said bicycles are good not only for health of riders, but also the environment. "Such a service will help build a smart, safe, clean and healthy city," he added.
The service takes on added significance during the pandemic as it reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission by helping riders avoid congested public transportation.
The service was first introduced in Cox's Bazar in January 2018, and later expanded to Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University, and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in Sylhet.
In March last year, Jobike introduced the service in Mirpur DOHS area with 50 bicycles on a pilot basis. In October 2019, the service was launched at Dhaka University campus, but wasn't commercially launched until now.
Jobike's sharing service allows several passengers to travel short distances using the same bike.
For instance, a user can start a journey from Gulshan-1 to her destination at Gulshan-2. After reaching the destination, she will park the bicycle at its designated place from where another user will unlock it and ride to her destination. Similar services are already available in many metropolitan cities across the world.
A DNCC official said Jobike will ensure that the vehicles are regularly disinfected for the duration of the pandemic.
To use the service, one needs to install the Jobike app on a smartphone. More details can be found on its website: www.jo.bike.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak in Bangladesh, the health department has suggested bus operators to limit passengers. As a result, commuters have been facing transport crisis in the capital. Along with the health issues, this is another factor the bike sharing service may potentially solve.