New bike share program ready to ride onto campus

Those looking to get around campus easily and affordably will soon have a convenient option as the university debuts a new bike share program. Red bicycles will be parked across campus for quick and convenient rentals beginning Tuesday, April 24. A kickoff event for the new service will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Promenade Lounge of the Holmes Student Center, featuring prizes, giveaways, coupons and snacks.

The new bike share program is offered through a campus contract with VeoRide and will allow users to rent a bike by using a smartphone app available via the Apple Store or Google Play.

The VeoRide app shows users where available bikes are parked and then allows users to unlock a bike by scanning a code or typing a number found on the bike into the app. The first month will be free to users, followed by three months of a discounted rate of 30 cents every 15 minutes for students with a “niu.edu” email address, payable via an online account. Subsequent months will cost 50 cents per 15 minutes of use. The trip ends when the user parks the bike in a bicycle rack and manually presses a lever that locks the back tire.

“VeoRide bikes can give riders greater flexibility and freedom,” said NIU Parking Services Coordinator Sue Bidstrup. “Users don’t need to be tied to a single bike for the whole day since they can use a VeoRide bike anytime.”

This new service replaces the Borrow-a-Bike Program administered by Campus Parking Services. The university’s current fleet of bikes are 10-years old and require frequent repairs and servicing. The program was entirely funded through Campus Parking Services (not student fees), and Bidstrup said it had become time and cost prohibitive to maintain the bikes. The existing program has had capacity use over the years. For the fall 2017 semester, all of the available 150 bikes were loaned out, she said.

Bidstrup said in addition to being able to offer new bikes in top condition, another benefit of the new program is that bike maintenance is handled by VeoRide instead of campus operations staff.

Those who would like to rent a bike but do not have access to the app will be able to set up an account with cash at partner locations on campus and unlock their bikes by texting the bike ID number to a dedicated phone number. The bikes are dockless, meaning they can simply be returned near an existing bike rack but do not have to be attached to it. Bidstrup said users are just asked not to leave the bikes on sidewalks, in driveways or locked to ramps.

“The program’s goal is to build a more sustainable community and improve mobility,” Bidstrup said. “This program can save 240 tons of CO² per year and it also saves NIU’s cost on maintaining the current rental program and on collecting abandoned bikes.”

For more information on the VeoRide Bike Share Program, contact Campus Parking Services at 815-753-1045.

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