CALHOUN CO., Ala. (WBRC) - A spokesperson for the VeoRide bikeshare service said the decision to pull their bicycles out of Calhoun County was strictly a business decision, and is no reflection of the program’s success in the area.
Amy Hesser, a public relations representative, said the bicycle rental program in Anniston, Jacksonville and Oxford, and on the campus of Jacksonville State University, has been successful, and even an example for other regions on how to work a progressive idea on ridesharing.
She said the decision was based solely on the company’s desire to work in bigger cities where they can use multi-modal fleets, such as motorized e-bikes and e-scooters. The VeoRide website, in fact, appears to prominently feature e-scooters more heavily than in the past.
The VeoRide program set up bicycle racks with the bikes in the three cities, as well as the part of the JSU campus close to the Chief Ladiga Trail. The trail is a former rail bed now open only to pedestrians and non-motorized bicycles. With the help of a mobile app, riders could ride the bicycles for a small rental fee.
The program was kicked off in January as the first regional bikeshare in the state, at the Jacksonville Train Depot, itself a metaphor for Calhoun County's transportation history. It is located on the Chief Ladiga Trail, once serving the railroad that used the line, and hosted a rack of the VeoRide bicycles.
Several other racks have been located around the JSU campus, and one is on Jacksonville Square.
Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith said the company kept 70 to 75 bicycles in the city, including the campus of JSU. He said as of November 4, the company had rented more than 9,000 in the city, and “burned 270 million calories.” He said VeoRide has been a big asset to all three cities and to the college.
“That’s what shocked us, then they called and said, ‘Sorry, we’re taking the bikes,’” Smith said. “My understanding is, by the time students get back from fall break, the bikes will be gone.”
During better weather, the service averaged 70 to 80 riders per day, in some cases even 120 riders a day.
Smith says he hopes the cities and the JSU campus can attract another bicycle rental vendor, perhaps even bringing in the cities of Piedmont and Weaver, who weren’t involved last time because VeoRide reportedly didn’t think those two cities could generate very high numbers.