Veoride bikes parked in random places across campus

A VeoRide in a trashcan near Rockwell Hall Oct. 4, 2019. Photo courtesy of Shayne Hanz. 

Sara Al Harthi , General assignment reporter

Kent State students have complained about the university’s new bike share system because people are leaving bikes in inappropriate places.

Chris Lukas, assistant director of outdoor adventure, said the university has received some complaints about the bikes being left in random areas and blocking access to doorways.

“We just want people to be aware that there are people on campus with mobility issues, and they need access to the sidewalks, they need access to the buildings,” Lukas said. “And not only that, just in general, we don’t want the bikes to be an inconvenience for people. While it might be easier just to leave a bike at a random location, it’s better if you take it to a bike rack and park it out of the way.”

Kent State switched to the bike sharing program VeoRide in May.

“At first, I thought the bikes are super helpful and accessible when they’re on sidewalks because whenever I’m walking and feel tired, I find a bike in front of me. But then, I started noticing that people park the bikes in weird places,” Maryam Al Madani, a senior nutrition major, said. “I once saw a bike on a bench. I found that to be extremely childish.”

“The craziest place I saw a bike parked was on a bench inside of the bus stop,” Layan Al Balushi, a senior finance major, said. “I actually saw the people who did it. I think people do it just to take pictures and post them on social media for fun.”

Lukas said the university has tried to raise awareness about parking bikes the right way through educating students at university events and sending a flashline message out to faculty, staff and students.

“The biggest thing we’re doing is education. With it being a new system, we’re just trying to educate everyone on how the bikes can be used and more importantly how they can be parked,” Lukas said. “VeoRide started sending push notifications in their app. It’s basically like a message that pops up on your phone. They’re focusing on parking in particular and how to park appropriately.”

VeoRide geo-fenced every bike rack on campus, which is about 200 bike racks. The company designated certain areas as parking zones on the map in the mobile phone, so people can see little boxes that show where the recommended parking zones are.

“The idea is hopefully people will park them at a bike rack because then we know they’re out of the way and they’re right there,” Lukas said. “People know where to go to use them, but then on the other side if people aren’t parking them appropriately, VeoRide has a way to track who that last user was. And they can assess fines for people. Usually they start with a warning but after that they’ll start assessing fines to people.”

Contact Sara Al Harthi at [email protected].