Bicycle delivery of food now available in Muscat

Energy Saturday 16/January/2016 21:45 PM
By: Times News Service
Bicycle delivery of food now available in Muscat

Muscat:The old adage says that necessity breeds invention. Today, inside the inner lanes of Ruwi’s busy markets, this maxim is playing out as human-powered, eco-friendly bicycles peddle throughout nearby areas to quickly deliver food.
“The idea is to deliver food conveniently in the areas close by,” Auradha Uzagare, Managing Partner of Khana Khazana [Food Treasure], told Times of Oman.
“It doesn’t need a license. It’s low-cost. There is almost no maintenance costs and it is pollution-free,” she added.
All three of Khana Khazana’s outlets have a fleet of bicycles,as well as motorbikes and vans, to deliver food.
An edge over motorbikes?
These bicycles are ordinary, not the ones seen in many European cities. Cafeterias purchase these bicycles from local markets in Muscat. A small cubical box is then attached behind the cycles, with or without the outlet’s name being displayed.
Untroubled by parking fees and fuel costs, these bicycles are effective in traveling through congested areas of the city, and can deliver more food packages in a day than do motorbikes.
“Even when the package is smaller, the cycles can always take turns at the cafeteria for more consignments,” said Mohamad Rayees, a front man at a small shawarma outlet.
But there are limitations.
The bicycles cannot travel on major roads, and there are almost no cycling or motorbike paths in the capital.
“Also you can’t deliver food on bicycles during atrocious summers,” Rayees said.
The idea has also become a boon for many outlets that struggle to register or receive licenses for low-cost delivery motorbikes.
“Our frequency to reach places with food has increased,” says J Ramarao, in charge of another food retailer.
“If we had more bikes, we would reach many places. These days we take limited orders - something we can deliver in 45 minutes, that is close by,” he said.
Some exercise
Until the government solves registration issues, bicycles - it appears - will slowly begin replacing motorbikes for food delivery.
“The government has limited expats from riding bikes because some of them were using private bikes for commercial purposes or for catering. Those looking for motorbikes for their personal use or hobby are also affected,” officials of the Royal Oman Police (ROP) told Times of Oman.
A report was carried by Times of Oman on Tuesday [December 5] focusing on motorbike registrations and licensing of motorcycle dealers in the Sultanate.
The ROP officials noted that the police will develop solutions in the future “that should address this difficulty.”
Meanwhile, to Anuradha Uzagare, workers coming from outside quickly put on weight, noting that “it’s better to have some exercise, too”, she laughs.
“I hope,as in other EU cities such as Amsterdam, people here will start using bicycles to reduce some of the traffic on roads. For that, we need cycling lanes here.”