By Thomas Griffin, Staff Writer
Starting this semester, Veoride is set to offer affordable bicycle rentals, and the effects of the new deal can already be seen across campus. For any returning students from last year, the newly founded, and subsequently, restructured, bike sharing program offers students cross-campus transportation that is fast, reliable, and relatively cheap, at a cost of $0.50 per ride. In addition, renting a bike through Veoride’s system is easy, straightforward, and otherwise brilliant use of modern technology that makes the daily struggle of getting around campus much easier.
Veoride’s bikes are connected to a smart phone app, more accurate GPS devices, and a QR display. The GPS signals from each bike appear on a road map within the app, easing the process of tracking down nearby bicycles. Students can select a particular bike through the app, request to reserve it, and get granted the bike for whichever open time slot they desire. Once that reservation is active, students can use their smart phones’ QR readers to detect the QR code displayed by the bike and claim it for their time slot. What makes Veoride’s system so interesting is that, if the QR code is not successfully claimed, or if an individual attempts to ride the bike without making a reservation beforehand, it will lock up, refusing to move until it is unlocked with the QR code. This works to prevent the bikes from being unfairly taken from the students who need them.
Of course, with such a luxurious system, it could be easy for some students to forget how far the bike sharing program has come within the last year. After months of preparation, the program began earnestly in the spring semester of 2018, and opened to much initial fanfare as students rejoiced at a quicker, easier way of managing their trips to class. However, cracks in this system quickly began to form. Sean Hennedy, a sophomore at UMass Dartmouth, recalled how multiple bikes went missing due to “GPS signals just being wrong.” Occasionally, some bikes would disappear for a few days, as they were being “[kept] in peoples’ Dells,” due to the apparently convenience of having an immediate mode of transportation reserved to oneself and brought out only when needed.
Veoride’s new system seems to address many of the pressing availability issues that Hennedy described. The refined GPS devices account for the bikes that get lost or are not returned, and the QR reservation system makes it so that no one person can use a bike for too long before their own reservation runs out, meaning that the bikes will change hands and be shared as often as they need to be.
While the Veoride bikes are there for student use throughout the coming semesters, appreciate the amount of trial-and-error that went into perfecting the ability to travel from Oak Glen to a class in Seng in under five minutes.