By Katie Savinelli
College Park has implemented scooters onto and around the University of Maryland’s campus, sparking a new method of transportation for students and city residents.
The University of Maryland Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) announced a partnership with mobility share company VeoRide. A year-long bike and electric scooter program began last Wednesday, placing 150 electric-assist bikes, 70 pedal bikes and 70 e-scooters to 24 different locations on campus, according to DOTS. VeoRide also placed these electric transportation vehicles around the city of College Park.
College Park posted a news update last Thursday following a board meeting earlier in the week announcing the partnership with VeoRide.
“Scooters and e-bikes are the most popular vehicles with higher numbers of riders,” Community Development Planner of College Park Katie Hart said. “VeoRide has reported consistent growth. In September, there were roughly 100 new customers each day.”
VeoRide is one of the micro-mobility industry’s fastest growing companies, implementing electric scooters with swappable-battery technology, according to the DOTS website. Many other e-scooters companies have become popular in recent months, including Jump, Lime, Spin and Bird. All of these companies aim to allow people the accessibility and fun of riding a scooter—with a fee.
As with other e-scooter brands, to rent a scooter or bike requires the free VeoRide app. Through Bluetooth pairing, a simple scan of the QR code on the vehicle will unlock it. Every minute, a charge attached to the app will appear, based on how long the vehicle is used.
“Scooters are supposed to be parked in geocoded parking zones shown in the VeoRide app on a map,” Hart said. “Both types of bikes can be parked at any bike racks in the service area.”
E-bikes and e-scooters cost $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute of use, according to VeoRide. The bikes and scooters are available to the public between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.
The new form of transportation comes at a cost, though. There are no specific rules as to where and where not to ride these electric vehicles, which causes mayhem on sidewalks and roadways. Are they allowed on the streets, where the rest of the electric vehicles ride, or are they for sidewalks only, like manual scooters and skateboards? Government officials and citizens have commented on this wave, mostly criticizing it for the lack of safety regulations.
“I see a lot of scooters on campus now, which is good, but I am always afraid they might hit me when I walk to class,” UMD sophomore Caroline Bowman said in an interview.
Since the implementation of e-vehicles on campus, there have been 12,924 total rides taken, 4,930 individual riders and about 2,584 miles ridden, according to Hart.
Senior Congressional reporter for Bloomberg Environment Dean Scott tweeted last Thursday on the matter, claiming that lawmakers had “brand[ed] scooters ‘a public safety concern’ for vehicles/pedestrians.” Scott said he was knocked down last winter by someone on a scooter going the wrong way down a one-way street.
City Clerk of College Park Janeen S. Miller would not comment on the matter because of unfamiliarity on the subject matter.
DOTS will offer free test rides of the e-scooters and e-bikes at College Park Day on Oct. 5, according to Hart.
Featured Photo Credit: Kate Savinelli/Bloc Reporter
Katie Savinelli is a sophomore multiplatform journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.