PITTSBURG — If approved by the city commission at its next meeting, Pittsburg residents and visitors will soon have access to a fleet of electric scooters that riders can easily rent using a mobile app on their phones for $1 per 15 minutes.
The scooters will be owned and serviced by the company VeoRide. Deputy City Manager Jay Byers said similar mobile app operated scooter companies such as Bird and Lime might be reluctant to come to Pittsburg because they generally offer their services in larger cities.
“We tend to be on the smaller side of the market,” Byers said, “and VeoRide was the company that was first willing to come to Pittsburg, and they came to us and asked us if they could put scooters in play, and we said sure, but we have to pass the ordinance first.”
Byers said VeoRide has seen and commented on the city’s ordinance, and having the scooters regulated by the city should prevent some of the problems that have been associated with similar mobile app operated scooters in other cities.
“A lot of these companies just came in and dumped hundreds of scooters in cities without any regulation, without any rules or guidelines, and there were some bad experiences that people had,” Byers said. “So we wanted to make sure that we kind of looked at all the things that have happened over the years, do some good sample ordinances and kind of make sure that we’re comfortable.”
The city will not have to spend any money to bring the VeoRide scooters to Pittsburg, Byers said.
“There is no need to use subsidies or public funding to incorporate a new transportation system,” VeoRide’s website notes. “VeoRide uses proprietary methods to ensure riders park appropriately, and we communicate regularly with cities to be sure we are meeting their needs.”
Byers said VeoRide would probably start off with 20 to 30 scooters in Pittsburg.
“These aren’t cheap,” Byers said, “so, you know, they’re going to test them and see how it works in Pittsburg, and if it works they’ll add more.”
Byers said appealing features of the VeoRide scooters include that they can be located by Global Positioning System and geo-fenced to prevent them from leaving a designated area. At first the scooters will be geo-fenced to only operate in the area of the Pittsburg State University campus and Broadway up to the downtown area near Block22.
“The app itself will let you see where they are,” Byers said, “and you can just go walk up and grab one, and then you can just scan it in, rent it and take off, and leave it when you’re done.”
VeoRide will collect the scooters at night and return them to popular locations so they remain conveniently accessible. The scooters top out at a speed of about 15 miles per hour, Byers said. He said it is recommended that riders wear helmets, although that is not required by Kansas law.
Cassandra Ngo, administrative associate with University Strategic Initiatives at PSU, tested out one of the VeoRide scooters on Thursday at an event celebrating the near-completion of the Block22 student housing and commercial space development in downtown Pittsburg.
“It was pretty fun,” Ngo said. “It was really fast, kind of scary to turn, but it was fun.”
Ngo said the VeoRide scooters will help to make Block22 accessible to students, which will benefit the new businesses in the area.
“I think that having the scooters downtown will really help to push the momentum forward in bringing people downtown,” Ngo said, “so with Block22 it’s been really cool to see everyone coming and checking out the new restaurants, coming and checking out the store, and adding those will just be another factor that helps us to move forward with that.”