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Push for electric scooters comes to Champaign-Urbana

Push for electric scooters comes to Champaign-Urbana (WCCU)
Push for electric scooters comes to Champaign-Urbana (WCCU)
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Last September, about 500 dockless bikes started popping up in Champaign-Urbana.

Now, almost six months later, the city is ready to discuss extending the agreement with VeoRide for another year — with an option to add electric scooters.

Since the launch, there has been about 15,000 riders in the area and about 1,000 rides per day.

“The program hasn't really been a safety problem for the public and it has been pretty well received,” said Rob Kowalski, assistant planning and development director for the city of Champaign.

At first, the city of Champaign was receiving about one to three complaints per week, but that has since gone down.

“Most of it was being unfamiliar with, what are these bikes, why are they here?” said Kowalski.

Questions about the newest ride-sharing trend, electric scooters, will likely be brought up during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Kowalski said Tuesday’s agenda is focused on the possibility of renewing the dockless bike program. If the topic of electric scooters is brought up, they will schedule a study session for a future date.

But not everyone is on board with the idea of e-scooters.

“It's a safety hazard for you, for the driver. Tragedy waiting to happen,” said Ted Faust, Champaign resident.

Recently, a student in Austin, Texas was killed on an e-scooter after colliding with an Uber driver — just one of the hundreds of accident reports around the country involving electric scooters.

The reports have caused some cities to think twice, including Champaign-Urbana.

“We constantly collected experiences from other cities to see what might be a good fit in Champaign,” Kowalski said.

Right now, VeoRide scooters are still new and not operating in any other cities. If approved, they would launch in the summer.

“Compared to our other competitors, we believe we have the best operational team, the operational structure and our scooters are top of the line,” Ben Thomas, General Manager for VeoRide at UIUC.

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As part of the pilot program with Champaign, Urbana and the university, VeoRide will be launching new electric bikes starting next month. They will have a max speed of 19 mph.

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