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Yulu co-founder Amit Gupta
Yulu co-founder Amit Gupta

Should you Yulu?

Urban mobility is experimenting with new ways to get about increasingly difficult roads. The new app-based solutions still have some distance to go.

If you are in Delhi, you might have noticed people on little blue bikes zipping past you on their merry way, even as you're stuck in traffic or waiting for your ride to arrive. What you're seeing is the Yulu phenomenon.

Yulu Bikes offers bicycles and Miracle Bikes, which are compact electric vehicles for rent at very low cost. Where this comes in handy is to bridge the first mile and last mile connectivity for commuters. The metro or bus service can only take you to a certain point, but for many urban Indians, the short distance from there to the office or home is the real issue. Yulu has set up rental zones near bus stops and metro stations for easy access. These rentals can eliminate the need to haggle with an auto rickshaw driver or booking and waiting for a cab, both of which are likely to cost you more as well, since autos in NCR charge a minimum of 30 for a ride, and even the fare for extremely short rides on Uber or Ola would add up to at least 50-70. In contrast, The charges for the electric scooters start at 10 and go up by 10 every 30 minutes, aside from a deposit of 250.

Each Yulu Bike comes with an in-built IoT device, which makes then easily trackable, and therefore theft proof. The vehicles are equipped with a SIM card, and are Bluetooth and GPS enabled. To rent a Yulu Bike, you need to download the app and register. The app will help you find a Yulu Bike zone and you will receive a QR code, which can be scanned on the bike to unlock the vehicle. You are then free to use it for as long as you want, and deposit it at another Yulu slot to end the ride.

The service was launched in Bengaluru and has since expanded to Mumbai, Pune, Bhubaneswar and Delhi.Yulu Bikes also wants to ease traffic congestion and the resulting air pollution in Indian metros. Given that air pollution levels in most Indian metros, especially the national capital, are among the highest in the world, and vehicular smoke only adds to it, this is definitely a step in the right direction. But according to online reviews by users, Yulu has a few glitches that need to be worked out and some are not too happy with the deposit amount these services demand. There is also the issue of inadequate infrastructure. Most urban roads in India don’t have proper bike lanes, which exposes riders to the risk of accident and injury, so these services can only be utilized in certain areas and at certain times of day.

So, the cost works out for short distances, but there is still some road ahead in terms of practical use.

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