Explore your city on electric bikes

Explore your city on electric bikes

Zero emission e-vehicles are being introduced across the country to promote 'sustainable experiential tourism'

Electric scooter Yulu Miracle can be picked up from different Yulu Zones across the city. Customers need to download the Yulu application and scan the QR code to access a scooter.

For many Indian states, looking to strike a balance between tourism and sustainability, one of the major challenges is polluting transport options that tourists rely heavily on. Enter electric vehicle tourism; where tourists can go sightseeing in zero emission electric vehicles. After Gujarat, Goa and Puducherry, Karnataka has now embraced this concept. 

Companies such as B:Live and Yulu are working towards popularising the use of e-bikes in tourism. 

B: Live, an ecotourism startup, recently launched its operations in Mysuru, Hampi, Kodagu and Srirangapatna with an aim to offer ‘immersive experiential tours’ on smart e-bikes. 

 Samarth Kholkar, CEO and co-founder, B:Live, says that while electric vehicle tourism is gaining popularity in India, the country is still lagging when it comes to experiential tourism. “We focus on sightseeing when travelling. We don’t give importance to experiencing local art, culture and cuisine,” he says. The environmental aspect is also neglected.

“That’s when we thought of introducing experiential tourism but in an eco-friendly manner, through electric vehicles,” he adds.

Yulu, another e-bike company, has gained enormous traction in Bengaluru recently. The compact blue bikes, mostly used by professionals and college-goers, are now being booked on weekends for leisure rides. From going on early morning rides to Cubbon Park to evening outings, many youngsters make use of these bikes to explore within the city.

“We have seen a rise in the use of these bikes on weekends. With Bengaluru being a city of lakes, many are using these bikes to ride around the water bodies,” says Amit Gupta, CEO, Yulu. They recently conducted a ‘Miracle Bengaluru Tour’ of a few heritage sites in the city.

Oswald Ernest, a biker, is enthusiastic about choosing e-bikes for in-city trips.

He says, “E-cycles are convenient, especially in a city like Bengaluru that is packed with vehicles. It also helps save money and energy while I enjoy the ride.”

 Fond of exploring less popular heritage sites, he adds that these bikes let him get into narrow lanes and find less explored places within the city. 

Bharath Ravudi, another bike enthusiast, however, adds that touring long distances can be challenging if proper arrangements are not made. “Charging points or batteries should be made easily available.” Kholkar points out that with the cycling culture still evolving in India, the lack of dedicated lanes and parking spots for these bikes is a challenge. But he believes that awareness comes by trial and error and adds that the challenges are not permanent.

Yulu operates on battery swapping model

The shelf life of a Yulu bike is five years and it operates on a battery-swapping model that can forecast the demand and use of the vehicle using machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

The average speed is 25 kmph and the range of the bike (when fully charged) is 60 km. It takes four hours for it to be fully charged.

Unlike B:Live, this platform has an age-restriction. Only people above 16 years can ride it.

B:Live offers multiple curated experiences to travellers
on electric bikes. They offer heritage tours in cities
like Mysuru,Hampi, Kodagu and Srirangapatna.

Karnataka has great potential for e-bike tourism

“Karnataka gets almost 85 to 90 lakh tourists every year, but these are restricted to popular destinations. With the state now trying to attract tourists to places such as Srirangapatna and Hampi, the footfall is only going to increase,” says Samarth Kholkar, CEO and co-founder, B:Live.

From the legacy of Tipu Sultan to the Kote Venkataramana Temple, Bengaluru too has many stories waiting to be told. It has great potential to be on the route map of EV tourism. Kholkar adds that in an effort to fully explore the cultural heritage of a place, tours are kept region specific. A captain, who could be an architect, a travel blogger, an archaeologist or even a local resident, will lead the group.

B:Live aims for zero carbon footprint

The bikes have a motor and a throttle and if one gets tired of pedalling, there is an accelerator that increases the speed up to 25 kmph. “This ensures that there is no carbon footprint. We cater to riders in the age group of 11 to 75 with eight to 10 people in a group,” says Kholkar.

What if e-bikes run out of charge during a trip?

B:Live says they work with a ‘guided tour’ concept. A circuit is curated every time the route is changed.

An electric cycle charged for three hours can travel anywhere between 35 to 60 kms.

The normal range of these tours is curated for only 12 to 15 km.

The trips also run according to a schedule giving the backend team a good buffer time to keep the bikes charged and checked for the next trip.

Fact file

A 25-minute safety briefing is given before each tour.

Helmets are compulsory.

They have trained and certified captains.

A backup vehicle is always kept handy in case of a major breakdown. 

The price starts at Rs 1,500 and includes customised e-bikes, a shoulder cloth bag, a meal at the destination and other services.

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