This June, two boys under the age of twelve suffered life threatening injuries after being hit by a car on Mount Vernon Road, SE. The two were on a single “VeoRide” scooter, when they pulled out of an alley without stopping, and were struck by a 64-year-old male who was reportedly driving under a suspended license. There were no charges pending in the crash, and while both boys survived, this incident served as an eye opener for the safety of not only users of VeoRide, but residents of Cedar Rapids as well. Veo’s policy has always been that riders under the age of 18 are only permitted to ride the pedal bikes with guardian approval, but this was never heavily enforced. Speaking from personal experience, I first rode a Veo scooter at 14 and was not aware of these policies.
Users download the mobile “Veo” app, and access rides on their account. To unlock a ride, the cost is one dollar, and varies from 20 to 33 cents per minute depending on the vehicle. Once unlocked, you’re free to ride anywhere within the boundary. Downtown is the hotspot for riding, which can be very dangerous when mixed with traffic, alleyways, and people in the area. Bars are popular downtown, so riding while intoxicated could take a bad turn very quickly. Another issue is riders on the sidewalks. Police cited seventeen different people riding on the sidewalk within the span of an hour, creating a problem for pedestrians trying to get by. For being a regular user of Veo the past couple of summers, I was never aware of a 600 dollar fine for riding on the sidewalk. The correct procedure is to ride on the street and bike lanes.
Reports say that from the 640 scooters spread throughout Cedar Rapids, about six of them end up in the Cedar River every weekend. A video blew up of an individual tossing a standup scooter into the river, and was then arrested and charged with 5th degree criminal mischief. This kind of behavior won’t necessarily take VeoRide out of Cedar Rapids, but could stop the program from expanding further. Although some cities have made thousands of dollars in profit, Cedar Rapids does not make any profit. In fact, the city paid VeoRide 65,000 dollars to make up for lost revenue due to a delay in the output of vehicles. Is this the best way for the city to spend its money?