A Vancouver company is testing the waters with a new alternative for commuters worried about overcrowded transit and carbon emissions.
VeloMetro unveiled the world’s first electric-assisted “velomobile” service at the University of British Columbia today. The vehicle, which rolls on three wheels, is intended to resemble a cross between two popular modes of transportation: a bicycle and a car.
The company’s CEO, Kody Baker, said the service will begin at UBC’s main campus, with plans to expand across the province.
“We saw an opportunity to create a fun and affordable active transportation alternative that fits people’s urban needs,” he said.
“We have big plans to expand our fleet and offer the velomobile-sharing service across Metro Vancouver, our province, and eventually throughout the Pacific Northwest and the world.”
Outfitted with familiar bicycle handlebars, pedals and hand brakes, Veemo velomobiles will also work like caresharing and bikesharing programs that already exist, with no keys required and registration through a smartphone app and operation on a pay-per-minute system.
Since it’s legally classified as an electric bicycle, users do not need a driver’s license and are able to sign up online within minutes. They can then access the velomobile without having to wait for motor vehicle driver record checks.
Tuesday’s public launch of the five velomobiles on UBC’s campus follows testing that tracked how students would use the service. It found that 400 test riders logged more than 2,700 km and 630 hours in trips.