You might have noticed an unusual number of turquoise bikes popping up around town, concentrated heavily on campus. These are the up to 500 VeoRide bike share bikes that have been launched here in C-U. The concept is pretty straightforward — you can download the VeoRide app to locate and unlock any of these bikes and then you can ride one wherever you need to go. When you're done just use the app again to lock it up and be on your way. This is the first bike share system we have ever had in C-U and I was eager to try it out.
After downloading the VeoRide app and entering my information, finding one of these things was no problem. I live close to campus and these bikes are starting to show up all over my neighborhood. However, if you live in Southwest Champaign or Savoy then you might not have any luck finding one yet. Once you find a bike, you use the app to scan a QR code on the bike to unlock it, and then you can begin your ride. It costs 50 cents for every 15 minutes of riding. The process of unlocking is pretty straight-forward and you don't need to be tech-savvy at all to give it a try. Once you are done riding, you will need to slide the lock on the back wheel back into place. The app will then show you how far you rode, how many calories you burned, how much it cost, etc. Overall, the VeoRide app is really simple and easy to use, and I have not had any issues with it.
Some of you may have tried bike share bikes in other cities like Chicago, NYC or even St. Louis, and you might have found those bikes to be a bit clunky and overall not that fun to ride. Well, yes, these VeoRide bikes are also built in the same way — with safety being the most important feature and speed not so important. However, the VeoRide bikes are actually more comfortable than I expected. There are three gears that are easy to shift, the seat is super comfortable, and the brakes work really well. Yeah, the bikes are pretty heavy especally when compared to a normal road bike, but I've had people riding these things blast by me when I am riding down Green Street, you will just need to put in a little bit of extra effort if you are in a hurry.
So can you really just leave these bikes anywhere? Yes, pretty much. So far I have mostly been seeing these bikes parked next to bike racks outside of University buildings, but I have also seen a few sitting in people's driveways or parked on the sidewalk. However, there seems to be a legitimate concern that people might abuse this and start throwing them in the street or parking them in places where they are clearly blocking pedestrians and other traffic. I haven't seen any of this happening yet but if you happen to see a VeoRide bike tipped over or blocking a sidewalk, you can just pick it up or move it out of the way.
Overall, I'm a huge fan. They have the potential to be an integral part of C-U's transportation system. Don't have a bike? Embarrassed that you don't know how to fix a flat tire? Now you have the option of using one of these VeoRide bikes. C-U is a fairly transient community with a lot of students coming and going all the time — some of them buy a bike while they are here and then abandon them when they leave. VeoRide is a great alternative because it is so cheap and simple to use. C-U is continually improving as a bike-friendly community, and I think the addition of bike sharing will only add to that as it increases bike accessibility for more and more people.
Photos from the VeoRide website