VeoRide, a shared mobility company based in Chicago, is launching a test program of e-scooters and pedal bikes today in downtown Fort Wayne.
VeoRide was recently issued a permit from the City of Fort Wayne Right of Way Department to begin a 16-month pilot program in Fort Wayne. The permit can be revoked at any time if the pilot program does not meet expectations. The program will begin with several dozen e-scooters; over the next month, no more than 300 e-scooters and 150 pedal bikes will be available in a designated area.
Tax dollars are not supporting VeoRide; it is a service paid for by individuals who ride. The e-scooters and bikes operate through the VeoRide app downloaded to smart phones. Customers must be 18 years of age to ride and are required to have a credit card on file. The cost of the electric scooter is $1 to unlock it and then an additional $0.15 per minute thereafter. Pedal bikes are $1 to unlock and then an additional $0.05 per minute to ride it after that.
“We are thrilled to be working with the City of Fort Wayne to provide its residents with a sustainable transportation alternative,” said Ben Thomas, VeoRide Midwest manager. “We hope this pilot project helps reduce car emissions and time wasted in traffic, while also providing areas of the city that need more first and last mile commuting options with a quicker, easier and more fun way to get where they need to be.”
The e-scooters will only be allowed to operate and park in certain geographic areas through technology known as geo-fencing. If a rider parks the e-scooter in a location outside the geo-fenced area, that rider will continue to be charged until the e-scooter is parked properly. The boundaries include downtown Fort Wayne, and several near-downtown neighborhood areas. (See map here: www.FWCommunityDevelopment.org/VeoRide.)
The City of Fort Wayne’s Community Development Division has been working with a committee composed of bike advocates, Public Works staff, Police officers and the public to study ways to make shared bikes and e-scooters available in Fort Wayne. The committee has looked at best practices and lessons learned in other cities to create a pilot program they believe will be positive for Fort Wayne.
“Our goals for the pilot program are to increase transportation options for residents; promote travel to local landmarks, restaurants and shops; encourage physical activity; provide options for visitors and tourists to explore our city; improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion; and connect neighborhoods,” said Dan Baisden, City of Fort Wayne planner.
E-scooters and bikes will be encouraged to operate in bike lanes where available. Under current ordinance, both e-scooters and bikes are allowed on sidewalks. Helmets are strongly encouraged. E-scooters and bicycles operating on public streets are required to obey the same traffic laws as a motor vehicle.
Unlike the consumer-grade models widely used by other shared mobility companies, VeoRide’s e-scooters are built specifically for commercial shared use and have many unique safety features, including wider ride decks for user stability, wider tires to handle rough pavement, mechanical brakes as opposed to e-brakes that can be hacked into and are less user intuitive, and front, rear, and undercarriage lighting. VeoRide’s scooters cannot travel faster than 15 mph. They weigh approximately 50 pounds each; the weight, GPS system, and an alarm on each e-scooter discourages mis-use and theft.
The company has a locally hired support team in Fort Wayne that will respond to calls about its e-scooters and bikes. Anyone who needs to report a concern with a VeoRide scooter or bike should call 855-836-2256 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.