ISU has new bikeshare program

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. GarzaAffordable transportation: The price for renting a VeoRide bike is fifty cents for 15 minutes and is done so through the VeoRide app.

Indiana State University has a new bike share program that will be fully launched when students return in August.

In March, the university entered a contract with VeoRide, which began in 2017 and is headquartered in Chicago. VeoRide is a privately-funded company.

Last spring, VeoRide brought about 15 bikes on campus as a trial run. “We didn’t want to launch it fully right as students were leaving” at semester’s end, said Nick McCreary, ISU sustainability coordinator.

ISU has new bikeshare program

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. GarzaHealthy, with no emissions: Nick McCreary, sustainability coordinator at Indiana State University, displays on Wednesday a VeoRide, which will be the bike of the university’s new bikeshare program. The program got a test run in the spring and will be fully launched for the fall semester. 

In July, the company will bring more. By the start of the 2019-20 academic year, 100 turquoise-colored bikes will be ready for use by students and staff. The goal would be to have at least 70 “active” at a time, while others might be out of use for minor repairs.

The relationship is a partnership between ISU and VeoRide, he said. “We sign an exclusive contract with them giving them permission to operate on our campus … They provide everything that is included with the bike share” including maintenance and complaint handling.

McCreary plans to promote the program because “we want to see it be successful ... I want our students riding bikes.”

The cost will be 50 cents every 15 minutes to ride a bike.

“Pretty much all of our student rides will be 50 cents or $1,” he said. “It’s run through an app” and users also pay through the app.

Students and staff can use the app to locate and unlock the bikes, which must be returned to designated areas shown on a map — on or near campus in areas where students tend to live.

That’s to alleviate the problem of bikes being left far from campus and all over the city. He demonstrated on the app how someone had parked outside the designated zone and would receive a notification.

“We will expand it as we work with businesses or parks,” he said. “We can move the geo-fence at any time.”

VeoRide is “responsible for pretty much everything” including hiring of students to fix and relocate bikes. So far, one student is hired, and McCreary anticipates the staff will include one or two more students. He expects there will be one full-time staff to serve as manager.

Also, every morning or every other morning the student/staff members will relocate bikes to high use locations.

While use has been limited this summer, “I’ve seen people ride them,” McCreary said.

In the spring of 2018, ISU started a bike share program with a different company called SPIN, and it operated for a few months until the company decided to end its bike sharing operation nationwide in favor of its scooter-sharing program.

The biggest change with VeoRide “is the geo-fencing. With SPIN, they could park anywhere,” McCreary said. Also, VeoRide is better demonstrating it is “in complete control” of the program.

As with any new program, “I’m sure we’ll see some issues, but I think it will be smoothed over a lot quicker with VeoRide,” McCreary said.

ISU wants to offer bike share to improve the environment and reduce fossil fuel emissions from cars, he said. The program also provides greater access to those students who don’t have a car; some students may not be able to afford a bike, but they can afford a $1 ride to a job interview.

“It’s an equity issue,” he said. And “it’s a lot healthier to ride a bike than to drive.”

He believes younger generations are becoming much more aware of climate change and the need to address global warming.

The program is not costing the university anything, McCreary said. “It’s the only way we can do it ... We don’t have the capital to invest.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

Sue Loughlin has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star for more than 30 years. She covers general news with a focus on education.