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Local

Bike-sharing program launched at NIU

Matt Dittmer, a national market launcher with VeoRide, explains the new bike sharing program to Northern Illinois University senior Monica Alverez, of Joliet, as the program is unveiled Tuesday at Northern Illinois University.
Matt Dittmer, a national market launcher with VeoRide, explains the new bike sharing program to Northern Illinois University senior Monica Alverez, of Joliet, as the program is unveiled Tuesday at Northern Illinois University.

DeKALB – Lucas Koprowski, 22, a junior at Northern Illinois University, said he typically walks or skateboards around campus.

But with 100 high-end bicycles at the ready – and free – until May 24, he’ll probably spend a good amount of time riding instead.

“Even for $13 a month, it’s cheaper than getting a bike and paying for maintenance,” Koprowski said. “I’m hoping these bikes will be here in the fall.”

VeoRide, a dockless bike-sharing service, began a trial period Tuesday for a campus bike-sharing program.

Representatives were at the quad with a number of bikes, educating students on how to download the app and unlock a bike.

By using the VeoRide app, available through the Apple Store or Google Play, users can find bikes, unlock them by scanning a code or typing the number of the bike into the app, and begin their trip. The ride ends when the bike is locked in place.

“This is pretty cool and an interesting idea,” Koprowski said.

Emily Adams, an NIU junior, said she already downloaded the app after learning about the program.

“With how available they are, I would probably ride every day,” Adams said.

The first month will be free to users, with the next three months having a discounted rate of 30 cents every 15 minutes for students with an “niu.edu” email address, which is payable through an online account. Subsequent months will cost 50 cents per 15 minutes of use.

For students, faculty and staff, a monthly pass will be $13.99, and a yearly pass will be $48.99. Community members would pay $25.99 for a monthly pass and $99.99 for a yearly pass.

Bikes that are not returned to a designated drop-off zone will continue to incur charges for the user. Riders are free to ride around the city, but all drop-off zones are on campus.

VeoRide co-founder Candice Xie said depending on how successful the trial period is, the company plans to greatly expand service.

“We will collaborate with the city for 100 to 200 more bikes, depending on the demand,” Xie said.

DeKalb management analyst Patrick DiDiana said at the end of the trial period, the city will work with NIU to come up with a plan based where bikes travel and what problems need to be overcome.

“We hope we can bring more students downtown,” DiDiana said. “VeoRide really wants to be here and have been very upfront on how they operate.”

Laura Lundelius, director of campus services at NIU, said it’s possible ridership results might be affected by the lack of students in DeKalb over the summer semester, but they will just have to see.

“I’m hoping it catches on and takes off,” Lundelius said. “It would be great to collaborate with the city on this in the fall.”

Information about the program is available on the NIU Parking Services website, niu.edu/parking/.

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