JA UI VeoRide scooters

Ben Thomas, the local manager of VeoRide's fleet of dockless vehicles, poses for a photo with one of the company's electric scooters outside the News-Gazette Media offices in downtown Champaign.

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Q: Why doesn’t the University of Illinois want dockless scooters?

A: Because the campus infrastructure isn’t built for scooters, among other concerns, according to Stacey DeLorenzo, the UI’s coordinator for transportation demand management.

“There’s a lot of infrastructure projects going on around campus, so we know that our transportation infrastructure is not the best,” she said. “I’m not saying they never will be (allowed), but it’s just not something we want to take on at this time.”

She also was concerned about scooters being left on sidewalks.

“There’s just been a lot of concerns over where they’re dropped. They’re worse than the bikes seem to be,” she said. “It’s just one other piece of equipment that people don’t have to take ownership for.”

While there are bike lanes for the dockless bikes, she said, “we haven’t planned out for (scooters) at all.”

VeoRide, which brought its dockless teal bikes to Champaign-Urbana about a year ago, has scooters in about six markets, local manager Ben Thomas said.

“A decent amount of Big Ten schools (have scooters). Ohio State has scooters. West Lafayette, Indiana, (Purdue) just got scooters,” he said. “Among Big Ten schools, the University of Illinois is becoming the minority.”

He said in markets like Knoxville, Tenn., Tallahassee, Florida, and Chicago, which is testing them this summer, each scooter is getting about 10 to 12 rides per day.

Thomas said he hopes the electric scooters can be added in the future.

“Our planners, they’re working hard to see if there’s any way to get them,” he said.

“We’ll see.”

Regardless, he said VeoRide’s dockless bicycles are doing well.

“This is still the top market in our company, and probably always will be that way,” he said. “We have a lot of ridership in this market.”

Last year, there were 150,000 rides taken in the first three months, and this year, he’s expecting to top 200,000.

And while ridership slows during the summer, Thomas said in the past two weeks, “we’ve done close to 6,000 rides each week.”

The bikes last about a year and a half, he said. When they die, they’re taken to Mack’s Twin City Recycling in Urbana.

“Anytime a bike runs its life cycle, and we’re not able to repair it any further, it gets taken over to Mack’s,” he said.

But he said VeoRide’s fleet of 500 bikes is doing well.

“We have a couple bikes that have almost a thousand rides on them,” he said.

Reporter

Ben Zigterman is a reporter covering business at The News-Gazette. His email is bzigterman@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@bzigterman).