Lawrence City Commission to consider agreement for citywide bike-share service

photo by: Nick Krug/Journal-World File Photo

In this file photo from Wednesday, April 18, 2018, a row of new KU-themed VeoRide bike-share bicycles await riders outside Stauffer-Flint Hall on campus.

The bike-share service operating on the University of Kansas campus could soon be expanded citywide.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider approving an agreement between the city and VeoRide Inc. that would allow the bike-share company to add about 20 off-campus locations to its service. The service would continue to be run by VeoRide, at no cost to the city, but the company is requesting the city’s permission to use city right of way areas as locations to park the bicycles.

Parks and Recreation Director Derek Rogers said the city continues to explore options to promote cycling and make it easier for people to use bikes, and that he is excited about the potential citywide bike-share service. Rogers said that increasing access to bikes benefits residents and the city.

“I see so many benefits of cycling,” Rogers said. “It’s great for your health, it’s an alternative mode of transportation and can help reduce traffic and parking congestion.”

Rogers is recommending the city approve the agreement, noting that a bike-share service is in line with the city’s goals of improving bicycle friendliness and reducing vehicular traffic, according to a memo to the commission. The memo also notes a 2017 bike-share study that found a bike-share program would be feasible in Lawrence. The study reviewed projected use, city layout and transportation infrastructure to make its determination.

In April, VeoRide began operating a pilot of the bike-share service that distributed 180 bikes throughout the KU campus. The bikes have built-in GPS, and they are tracked and locked electronically. Riders use a smartphone app linked to their credit cards to locate, rent and unlock the bikes.

Riders pay 50 cents for every 15 minutes of use, or can pay for a day, month or yearlong pass, according to a fee chart in the agreement. Those passes are $7 for 24 hours of unlimited two-hour rides, $26 for a month, and $100 for a year. Students and university employees can receive discounts on monthlong and yearlong passes.

If approved, the agreement would allow VeoRide to use the city right of way for about 20 additional bicycle stations where people can rent or return a bicycle. Those locations are spread throughout the city, and include the Lawrence Public Library, Holcom Recreation Center, Rotary Arboretum, Rock Chalk Park, Sixth Street and Kasold Drive bus stop, Levee Trail parking lot and several locations throughout downtown Lawrence, according to the agreement.

Dockless bike-share services in particular have had issues in some cities. Those include the improper parking of bikes or the accumulation of many bikes in certain locations, resulting in blocked sidewalks. Rogers said the agreement between the city and VeoRide includes provisions aimed at addressing such issues.

Specifically, the agreement states that VeoRide will consult with city staff to determine the maximum number of bicycles that may be staged within the stations in the city right of way. The bicycle stations will be geofenced, meaning riders can only rent and return bicycles within specific areas, according to the agreement. The agreement also stipulates that it will be VeoRide’s responsibility to allocate and transport bicycles to ensure there is not an overaccumulation of bikes at one station and that bikes are generally available at all of the specified locations.

Spencer Dickerson, VeoRide’s general manager of the KU/Lawrence market, said that local VeoRide staff monitors the bikes’ locations daily and riders are charged a $10 fee if a bike is left outside a geofence area and has to be retrieved. If the city approves the agreement, Dickerson said VeoRide would likely begin by putting a couple of bikes at each of the stations throughout the city and adjust based on demand.

Dickerson said the goal is to make sure bikes are in locations where they are ridden daily and not creating clutter.

“We try to operate in a responsible way with the community to be, instead of maybe just a flash in the pan, more of a sustainable system that can be part of the community indefinitely,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said VeoRide is in discussion with KU about adding 180 more bikes to the bike-share service. He said those bikes would be added next month, and that VeoRide hopes to continue to add 180 bikes every semester until there are about 540 bikes in the fleet.

If approved, the agreement would begin sometime this month and be effective until March 31, 2019. The city and VeoRide would have the option to mutually extend the agreement for four additional one-year terms and could enter into a new agreement if desired, according to the agreement.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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