Cedar Rapids City Council member Ashley Vanorny tries out a VeoRide scooter Friday outside City Hall. Electric-assist bikes and electric scooters began arriving by Friday for the bike share program, which will soon introduce sit-down scooters as well. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
CEDAR RAPIDS — Pushing off the ground twice with his right foot to gain momentum, Mayor Brad Hart picked up speed on a black-and-teal electric-assisted scooter, wind tussling his sweatshirt as he looked toward First Avenue E.
He veered right, then turned the other direction before reaching the street, looping back to his starting point where a fleet of bikes and scooters stood. As the helmet-wearing elected official returned to the city team gathered Friday to test the scooters behind City Hall, he broke into a wide smile, and soon after the group set off for a quick trip to NewBo City Market.
The test ride marked the arrival of bikes and scooters in Cedar Rapids with the return of the city’s bike-share program, which makes the two-wheeled devices available to rent for short rides around the downtown area for a fee. The system is available throughout downtown and surrounding districts including MedQuarter, NewBo, Czech Village and Kingston Village.
After he returned energized from scooting around town, Hart said it’s a fun, environmentally friendly way to get around town without a car.
“It’s also just great recreation for individuals and families to ride and see the sights,” Hart said.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart uses his phone to start his scooter rental Friday outside City Hall. Electric-assist bikes and electric scooters began arriving for the third year of the city’s bike share program. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
City planner Sylvia Brueckert said many riders opt to use the bikes and scooters on the trail system and business owners in the surrounding districts have passed along positive feedback from their customers.
Compared with VeoRide’s other markets — like college towns — ridership trends here show people are riding them for longer time periods, Brueckert said. This indicates more riders use the bikes and scooters for fun and not just quick transportation.
“It’s a great way to get from either Czech Village to NewBo or over to Kingston or over to downtown without getting back in your car and trying to find another parking spot and all of that — just gets you around a little quicker,” Brueckert said.
Cedar Rapids in 2019 awarded a contract for the program to a single vendor, Chicago-based VeoRide, which owns and operates the program at no cost to the city. This has limited the number of bikes and scooters and given the city more control, compared with other cities with multiple vendors and hundreds if not thousands of the bikes and scooters.
City officials said ridership saw a boost in 2020 once the program returned in June as the spread of COVID-19 last spring pushed people to seek more opportunities to do things outside.
“Once we started, it was really popular right away last year just because everyone was looking for outdoor activities,” Assistant Community Development Director Bill Micheel said.
In a few weeks, the city also will pilot a new addition of about 100 “Cosmo” sit-down scooters, which travel at the same speeds as a traditional scooter. Residents can ride them on the bike lanes or travel lanes, but not on the sidewalk.
City officials prepare Friday to ride bikes and scooters outside Cedar Rapids City Hall as the city’s bike share program returns. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
How to use bike share
After downloading the VeoRide mobile app:
- Create an account
- Scan the QR code on any scooter or bike (or enter the ID number) to begin ride
- When finished, park in a designated green bike rack and submit a photo of correctly parked bike or scooter
- The fare ends once riders lock the bike or click “end ride” on the scooter
What it costs
The VeoRide app is free on any app provider. The app is where people make payments for their rides. Fares include:
- E-bikes: $1 to unlock, 20 cents per minute of use
- Traditional standup scooters: $1 to unlock, 29 cents per minute of use
- New sit-down scooters: $1 to unlock, 33 cents per minute of use
Scooters should be parked in any green bike rack or in the designated painted parking area on the sidewalk near bike racks.
City officials also ask that bikes, scooters or sit-down scooters and skateboards be walked on sidewalks as they are not permitted to be ridden there. These may be ridden in bike lanes and bikes also may be used in full travel lanes. Sidewalk decals and street signage indicate where riding on the sidewalk is not permitted.
To contact VeoRide, call (855) 836-2256 or email email@example.com to report any concerns. More information, including safety tips, also is available at cityofcr.com/bikeshare.
VeoRide scooters display the rider’s speed and use QR codes as part of the rental app. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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