Metro explores the latest trends emerging on the West Coast of Canada.
Electronic bicycle rideshare Veemo hopes to make in-roads in Vancouver
Ride sharing options offer variety, flexibility and comfort in getting around the city.
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Today's city dweller might bike to work on a Mobi, then book a Modo hybrid for an evening hike in North Van. A growing demand for variety and flexibility in urban transportation is leading to innovative changes. For Vancouverites who would rather avoid the expense or environmental footprint of car ownership, there is a multitude of vehicle sharing options including Modo, Evo, Car2Go, and Zipcar.
For cyclists, the Mobi bike share program means they can hop on a bike under the Cambie Street Bridge and head to Granville Island after work to shop for dinner at the market. Perhaps the most unique vehicle share in the city is Veemo, a fleet of electric tricycle velomobiles, enclosed bicycles that look like cars but function like electric bikes.
With electronic entry, a navigation system, safety-conscious plastic windows and windshield, comfortable seating, and even storage space, the Veemo is hyper-modern – a streamlined vehicle that hints at an environmentally friendlier future.
According to Kody Baker, CEO of VeloMetro, "We were inspired by some other enclosed electric bikes that were on the market at the time, but saw a strong opportunity to improve upon their designs."
Veemo is for anyone who "lives works and plays in the city and wants flexible personal transportation without the usual torment of urban travel," said Baker. Many young adults are delaying getting their driver's licence or "are not interested in getting one at all."
Concerns about climate change, increasing interest in active lifestyles, and improvements in bike lane infrastructure "all strongly contribute to a growing interest in Veemo."
Despite a reputation as all-season sport enthusiasts, many Vancouverites are "fair weather cyclists who want a better way to get around the city when the weather's not great, when we're wearing nicer clothes, don't want our bike stolen or vandalized, or need some significant cargo capacity," said Baker.
Veemo's design is meant to be intuitive. "It's got the familiar handlebars, hand brakes and pedals" familiar to cyclists. No balance, sweat, or special clothing needed, " said Baker. Top speeds reach 32 km/h with electric assist. He said their vehicles appeal equally to millennials and boomers; the former like the noncommittal ease, and the latter are drawn to the safe form of an active sport.
The University of B.C. is one of the test markets and interest is quickly growing for a form of transport that can get students around the vast campus quickly and in style. For now, people can sign up for the online newsletter at rideveemo.com.
"In the very near future, we'll let people know when they can sign up for their Veemo account, and start referring their friends for free ride time."
Veemo's ultimate goal is "to convert 60 per cent of the city's population into users of active transportation." Baker noted that benefits include "healthier cities, less congestion, cleaner air, and stronger connection to community."