OU rolled out its exclusive partnership with bike and scooter company VeoRide in January, effectively banning outside e-scooter and other micromobility companies from operating on campus. The products are built differently than other scooter companies for a safer ride, but they also have additional operational rules that users might not be aware of.
VeoRide works with individual communities to set up parking and riding guidelines, according to its website. Some communities, like Norman, “ask for ‘no parking’ areas to keep bikes and scooters from being left there,” the website states.
VeoRide's products are tracked through GPS technology and a geofence, or virtual geographic boundary, of operation, stated Andrew Miles, VeoRide southeast regional manager, in an email. This means that VeoRide can track if its products have been left outside of the geofence, and if they have, users can accrue additional fees for misuse.
VeoRide’s geofence expands across Norman from West Gray Street and South Porter Avenue to South Jenkins Avenue near Highway 9, according to the app.
The boundary also has a few self-enclosed ride zones, such as a small boundary between Monitor and Ryan Avenues, south of East Constitution Street, a boundary from East Constitution Street to Highway 9 near 2900 Apartments and the Commons on Oak Tree, and a boundary from the intersection of East Lindsey Street and 12th Avenue Southeast to Classen Boulevard.
The scooters have electronic locking devices, but the bikes have manual locking devices, which means the scooters have technology that prevents the user from ending the ride on the app if they are not physically located in an appropriate parking area, while the bikes do not have that function.
Miles said if users park a bike outside of the geofence the manual locking device permits the user to lock the device, but the app will continue charging the 7 cents per minute rate until the bike is inside the geofence again.
"Though this is rare, what typically happens is said customer realizes it after the fact and calls our customer service department," Miles said. "If the customer is unable or unwilling to go return the bike, then Veo can charge the customer a service fee for the local staff to do so."
If local staff have to retrieve a bike, the minimum fee for the user starts at $15. If users have multiple infractions their accounts could be suspended, although it is a rare occurrence, Miles said.
The scooter's fully electronic locking device requires users to take a photo of the parked device through the app. If the user and device are outside the geofence or in a restricted area, such as a no-ride zone or no-park zone, the app will inform them of the appropriate parking area, Miles said, and the app will not allow the ride to end until it is located inside the geofence.
If a user decides to leave the scooter without ending the ride on the app, the timer will continue to run at a rate of 20 cents per minute, Miles said. If a user is unwilling to bring the scooter back into the geofence, local staff will retrieve it for the same cost as for bikes.
While VeoRide is the only scooter company allowed on OU’s campus, e-scooter companies that were operating in town prior to January, such as Lime and Slidr, haven't necessarily left town. The products have been sighted by The Daily near campus and blocking university walkways over the last few weeks.
Kris Glenn, director of parking and transportation services, wrote in an email his department is "closely monitoring" Lime and Slidr, and they have mostly stayed off campus since the announcement was made.
Glenn said the department asked Lime and Slidr not to operate on campus and if it becomes clear the companies are operational, the department will impound the scooters.
"We are very pleased with our partnership with VeoRide, and the launch has gone very smooth," Glenn said. "Their bikes and scooters both seem to be very popular with our students."