Texas A&M makes changes to VeoRide bike-share program

Users must stay on campus, lock bicycles to racks when finished

The Eagle

By Megan Rodriguez

Published January 8, 2020

VeoRide bikes on campus

VeoRide bicycles on Texas A&M’s campus are being outfitted with a mechanism that allows the bikes to be locked on bike racks. While users can park their VeoRides in “coat hanger” racks that are already around campus, the 50 new racks being installed will look different and were designed with the new system in mind.
– Photo by Laura McKenzie

VeoRide users are now required to remain on Texas A&M’s campus while using the bicycles and must lock the vehicles to a bike rack or face fines up to $75.

Local VeoRide employees are retrofitting bicycles with coiled-cable locks, and Texas A&M’s Transportation Services workers are bringing in 50 new bike racks this week as the rules go into effect. While 1,200 VeoRides will be available by the start of A&M’s spring semester on Monday, employees will continue adding locks to bikes until the entire 2,000-vehicle fleet is back in use. The revised geofence encompasses the A&M campus only, including Park West and University Gardens.

A&M Bike Share Program Coordinator Byron Prestridge said the cost of the bike racks will not be passed onto students, and VeoRide Regional Manager Joe Brummer said the new locks will not result in higher fees for users. Additionally, Prestridge said even before the plan for the new bike locks, A&M was looking to implement bike racks on certain areas of campus.

Prestridge said the system is an effort to “provide an easy, simple and effective way for people to make sure that when they put their bike in a rack, it’s not going to get moved.”

“We’re starting a new year and we have new rules,” Prestridge said. “We are looking forward to progressing, and we appreciate VeoRide’s efforts here. We are looking forward to a great spring.”

While users can park their VeoRides in “coat hanger” racks that are already around campus, the 50 new racks being installed will look different and were designed with the new system in mind. Prestridge said the new design is a 32-inch tall, 6-foot long horizontal bar that people can wheel a bike under. Many of the new racks will be put in areas where traditional racks were previously removed to host free-standing VeoRides Additional racks will be added later, Prestridge said.

The coiled-cable locks are installed under the seats of VeoRides, so users must back bikes into a rack to use them. The cord can be stretched around the rack, then users can position the cable loop over the VeoRide bike lock and close the bike lock over the cable loop to attach a VeoRide to a rack.

If bikes are parked improperly, Prestridge said, VeoRide employees will take note of the bicycle’s bar code number and notify the most recent user of a fine via the VeoRide app. The fees will vary based on where the bike is parked and how many offenses the cyclist has committed and could reach up to $75. A user’s account also could be suspended in some cases.

The new rules come after Transportation Services sent out a campus-wide email in December stating that it might not renew its contract with VeoRide due to increasing “unsafe antics” and other violations. Later that month, Transportation Services announced that it would renew the contract because VeoRide was implementing this new “lock-to-a-rack” system.

Brummer said A&M is the first university in VeoRide’s system to add cable-cord locks to the bicycles, and that San Francisco is also considering a similar system due to the city’s users parking in inappropriate areas.

About 6,000 people use VeoRide at A&M per week, Prestridge said, and in the 2019 fall semester there were about 750,000 rides. He said 85% to 90% of users were operating on campus.

Prestridge said he knows the new rules may affect that usage, but he’s optimistic it could lead to greater ridership. Some “heavy origin locations,” Prestridge said in an example, are the dorms, which workers sometimes had difficulty taking VeoRides back to during the afternoons because they were used by so many students in the mornings. He said the consolidation of bikes in a smaller geofence could help workers respond to user needs faster by distributing bikes to areas of need in a more timely fashion.

Brummer agreed with the sentiment, saying that most of the users are on campus, but too much of VeoRide employees’ efforts had to be taken off campus due to the previously larger geofence.

“By reducing the geofence, we are hoping to be more efficient and productive with our operations,” Brummer said.

Many students depend on VeoRide as their only form of campus transportation, and Brummer said he hopes people take that into consideration before violating the rules and potentially preventing people from having that form of transportation.

“Let’s be good Ags,” Brummer said. “Let’s take care of our campus. We love this campus. Let’s keep our campus clean.”

Visit transport.tamu.edu to see A&M’s official rule announcement and a video demonstration of how to lock VeoRides to bike racks.

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