Did You Know: Bicycle Renting Is Half Century Old Business In This Odisha City

Berhampur: June 3 is celebrated as World Bicycle Day since 2018. But, did you know that Berhampur’s bicycle connection and its rent system is half-a-century old?

The people of the city used to depend on bicycles as an affordable means of communication. But, the demand gradually declined with more people opting for scooters and motorcycles.

The slump in demand also saw closure of many renting businesses in the city. The number has come down from over a 100 about 20 years back to just 4 such cycle rent shops now.

However, what takes the cake is that these shops continue their business out of passion for retaining the modest and environment friendly means of transport running.

Ram Prasad,  owner of DPR cycle mart at Annapurna Market here, says “I first assisted my father and learnt a lot about bicycles from him. Now, I manage the mart alone after his death.”

“I have 25 bicycles for renting purpose. We charge rent in three slabs. It begins with Rs 5 per hour, then there is Rs 20 from morning to evening and Rs 30 for 24-hours. We record the time when the bicycle is hired and when it is returned and charge the rent accordingly,” said Ram.

“We provide people with bicycles on rent in good faith. We take Aadhar or voter’s identity cards or college ID cards from students or mobile phone numbers to provide bicycles. During earlier days, there were no mobile phones or voter I-cards. So, we provided bicycles only to persons we knew personally or those who were regular customers, friends and relatives”, he added.

During the Seventies, the rent for each bicycle was 0.25 paise for 24-hours, said Ram Prasad.

The demand is high among vegetable vendors, small businessmen, tourists, daily wage labourers and students who come to the Silk City. They hire bicycles from shops and return them by evening, Ram said.

“Bicycle is the best means of transportation. Even during rush hour bicycle helps you go travel conveniently without getting stuck in traffic snarls”, said M Jagannath Rao Achary (80). The former corporator of Berhampur Municipality never uses vehicles other than bicycle even at this old age.

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