Startup companies focused on bike mobility may be popular for the moment thanks to high traffic congestion, but only a handful of companies have really established themselves within the marketplace.
Startups like Rapido, Ola Bikes, and uberMOTO are among the few to have survived but only after navigating through many regulatory hurdles.
Bike taxi startups in India haven’t had it easy.
From a lack of clarity on laws governing bike taxis to occasional crackdowns by regional transport departments, amid rising competition, there has been no dearth of challenges for Indian startups offering bike-hailing services to sustain and scale their businesses.
And yet, bike taxi startups have found unique workarounds to address many of these challenges, from pivoting to a hybrid model that includes offering hyperlocal delivery services, to operating white-plated private vehicles in the face of regulatory uncertainty over the use of bikes for commercial use.
In particular, the rules governing private vehicles under Section 53(1) (b) of the Indian Motor Vehicle Act states that private vehicles – or vehicles with white board licence plates – can have their registration suspended if used for “hire or reward without a valid permit for being used as such”.
Earlier this year, regional government transport officials cracked down on bike-hailing services startups by seizing the vehicles of several bike taxis, accusing them of operating illegally. State traffic authorities of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, some parts of Andhra Pradesh, and even Madhya Pradesh have deemed bike-hailing as illegal.
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