Bike rental company VeoRide expected to be available on campus by the end of October

The campus of Western Kentucky University will be implementing a new transportation system, known as Big Red Bikes, as of October 17th, 2018. This new transportation system will allow students to pay a small fee in order to check out a bike for a day.

Natasha Breu

By the end of October, 180 bikes are expected to arrive at WKU for students to rent across campus starting at 50 cents for 15 minutes.

Bike share company VeoRide was selected by WKU after a survey taken last fall showed significant student interest in having bikes on campus, said Brad Wheeler, the assistant vice president of Business Services for WKU.

“We want to encourage healthy activity for students, staff and faculty,” Wheeler said.

This follows Big Red Bikes, a bike program formerly housed within the Office of Sustainability, ending its service of offering free bike rentals to students.

The VeoRide bikes will bear WKU’s logo and can be accessed through the VeoRide app, allowing users to locate and unlock the bike by scanning its QR code. A bike may be reserved for up to 30 minutes and rented for an unlimited lentgh of time. The rates are pay-as-you-go, but day passes are available along with monthly and annual passes. WKU students, faculty and staff can get discounts on packages.

Fern Gomez, a sophomore from Henderson, said she thinks this is a positive addition to WKU.

“They sound like those [Bird] scooters in Nashville,” Gomez said. “Beneficial to our students because it’ll save them gas money.”

Wheeler said a committee made up of students, faculty and staff will be formed to determine where “geofences” will be located. Geofences will be designated drop-off areas for the bikes that won’t be VeoRide-branded bike racks, found on campus where students put their personal bikes.

Forbes reports a private bike share revolution is occurring throughout urban America. According to the magazine, bike share programs have “exploded” in the U.S. on college campuses, with the leading program being Zagster, a bike share company launched in Massachusetts in 2007.

The VeoRide company was started by two Purdue graduates who thought bike share programs would be beneficial on college campuses. The bikes ship from China and can be customized to fit the needs of different universities according to color and logo.  

The bikes are currently at different colleges such as the University of Arkansas, New England College and the University of Illinois. Safety concerns have been raised by the University of Illinois student newspaper “The Daily Illinois” about the bikes possibly being a “nuisance.”

The bikes have been “pushed over” on the streets and sidewalks, bringing concern that people might not have respect for public property, according to an article from “The Daily Illini.”

“It is important that the bike does not block car traffic, impede pedestrian access, or encroach on private property,” the VeoRide FAQ page states.  

Brennan Jones, a sophomore from Owensboro, said VeoRide could be interesting to have on campus, but he doesn’t know how many students would actually use it.

“I think it would seem beneficial to an extent,” Jones said. “From what I’ve seen, bikes are only used by a small percentage of students on campus … people are hesitant of change.”

Wheeler said VeoRide was chosen as the lowest cost bid, as they provide no charge to the university for supplying the bikes. Each bike is worth $600-700, and Wheeler said they are a significant capital investment.

News reporter Natasha Breu can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow Natasha on Twitter @nnbreu.