Downtown Sarasota Prepares for e-bikes


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, August 27, 2019 – Many frequent visitors and residents of downtown Sarasota are looking forward to see how a recently approved e-scooter and e-bicycle-sharing service in the city center would work. In July, city administrators picked VeoRide, a Chicago-based company, to operate this bike-share program. Significantly, this program comes as the city is plotting a master plan versus the growing problem of local traffic that also impacts the Sarasota real estate market.

VeoRide was established in 2017 as a Purdue University student start-up to provide a sustainable, multi-modal transportation system for a variety of users. It already operates in 30 locations covering cities and universities in the U.S. and some overseas markets.

An App-driven System

Besides e-bikes and e-scooters, VeoRide’s system include fat-tire bikes, cargo bikes, and ADA-compliant bikes. A mobile app is the nerve center to the VeoRide service, allowing users to locate and choose the nearest available bike. The VeoRide app likewise includes a reservation platform, enabling riders to reserve a bike prior to their picking the vehicle up.

Upon reaching the bike, the rider will unlock it by scanning the vehicle’s OR codes onto the app. Once the trip is completed, the rider locks the vehicle through its smart lock button, which in turn triggers the start of VeoRide’s automatic payment process.

VeoRide charges $1 to unlock a bike or scooter. The rate for a scooter is 20 cents a minute and 5 cents a minute for a bike. The company provides optional membership packages suitable for frequent users of its bikes.

Gotcha City Circulator Ends

In a related development, transit company Gotcha has terminated the i-Ride electric car service that it launched in the city of Sarasota last January at $3 per ride. Gotcha previously operated the i-Ride electric car service as a downtown circulator free of charge, with the city subsidizing its operations for 18 months.

After the 18-month period, however, this operation failed to meet its objective to be self-sustaining via advertising. Gotcha thus introduced its $3-per-ride service, and it later bid, along with VeoRide, to operate e-bikes and e-scooters in Sarasota. As city authorities have picked VeoRide, Gotcha said it would terminate its i-Ride operation, because it believes two similar systems operating in the city won’t be viable.

Parking Meters Now Operating

Meanwhile, the city has activated nearly all parking meters at the prime parking spots in downtown Sarasota. Installation of these devices commenced in early July, and the meters are now installed in segments of Main Street, Palm Avenue, and Ringling Boulevard between School Avenue and Gulfstream Avenue.

The parking rate the city charges is $1.50 per hour. Paid parking is enforced between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday west of U.S. 301. Paid parking in the judicial district east of U.S. 301 is between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The city is already enforcing a paid parking system at St. Armands Circle. One flat fee applies for the downtown parking meters, and these are thus easier to use than those in St. Armands operating a tiered pricing structure. Significantly, too, 88 percent of public parking spaces at the Sarasota downtown remain free, with the meters installed only on the prime sites of major city streets.