Soon there could be shareable bikes in St. Joseph—if VeoRide has it way.
Linda Jackson, spokesperson for VeoRide said the company is interested in extending their geofencing to allow the bikes stationed at the University of Illinois to be used on the Kickapoo Rail Trail that passes through St. Joseph.
The company will present its plan to the St. Joseph Village Board on Tuesday and allow village trustees to ask questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Village Hall located at 207 E. Lincoln.
“If all goes well, we would anticipate expanding the service area sometime in April,” Jackson said.
VeoRide was founded in 2017 to help people find reliable, cheap and green shareable transportation.
Currently, there are around 500 of the turquoise bikes, which is a VeoRide signature, in the Champaign-Urbana area.
More than 110,000 people have taken rides on the rentable bikes.
The program launched in Champaign-Urbana on Sept. 1, 2018 with just 100 bikes but quickly expanded to 500, which was the maximum allowed by the University of Illinois, Champaign and Urbana.
Mayor Tami Fruhling-Voges said she met with company representatives a few weeks ago. The plan calls for three to five bikes to be placed in St. Joseph.
“The company is mostly interested in extending the boundary for their bike usage to include St. Joseph,” she said.
The program is being tested for one year in Champaign-Urbana and at the U of I. The program allows customers to use the bikes for a short time and park them wherever they are done using them within certain boundaries the company has set.
The bikes are tracked with GPS and locked when not in use. The users unlock the bikes with a phone app. Riders pay for the bike through the app and are charged 50 cents for 15 minutes. They are also instructed on how to properly park the bikes when finished.
Fruhling-Voges said she thinks the program could be positive for the community.
“This could potentially bring more people out from CU to visit our community and businesses,” she said. “Those people would need a way to return back to CU, so those bikes would be returned at that time.”
Some of the biggest complaints with the program come from bike users leaving the bikes wherever they want.
The company said the bikes can be moved even when they are locked so if one is in a yard or on business property it can be moved to a different location. If bikes are left and a property owner wants them picked up they can call 855-VEO-2256 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The company would be in charge of any abandoned bikes or bikes that become disabled,” Fruhling-Voges said.
Fruhling-Voges said the village would have no financial stake in the program.
“The program can be tried on a temporary timeline and doesn’t cost the village anything to give it a try,” she said. “I don’t feel like we have anything to lose. The extra exposure for visitors to the village is always a good thing.”