Council extends contract for dockless scooters; Veo wants to add more vehicles to fleet

Charlottesville City Council has taken action to allow the firm Veo to continue operating personal vehicles across the City of Charlottesville. On January 3, they voted to extend the company’s dockless mobility permit. 

“This dockless mobility permit is how we have managed the for-profit scooter and bike-share programs around the city since 2019,” said Ben Chambers, the transportation planning manager for the city. 

There were previous vendors that have come and gone and now only Veo has a permit. The company approached the city before the pandemic about changing some of the terms and conditions. They still want to negotiate those terms, but needed to extend the existing permit to March 31 to keep their wheels in motion. 

“The key incentive for the city to grant this 90 day extension and continue discussions with Veo is that this provides us some time to address the community feedback that we’re heard about this program, particularly around parking, [Americans with Disability Act] issues, and safety,” Chambers said. 

Chambers said that would give the city time to hire a bike and pedestrian coordinator to administer the program. That position has been vacant since the end of 2021. 

Chambers said some of the community concerns are being worked out, such as parking. He said the University of Virginia uses Veo as well and has worked out arrangements that can be copied by the city. 

Councilor Brian Pinkston said his initial opinion on the scooters is that they are terrible.

“Because they are always in the way and they are a safety hazard and most people aren’t wearing helmets and they are in the way of sidewalks and that does happen,” Pinkston said. “I work at UVA and that does happen and that’s still an issue over there too. But as I’ve spoken with people, there are many people that this has become an integral part of how they get around.”

Pinkston said his past year being on the Regional Transit Partnership makes him realize the scooters and bikes are needed. But he said they have to learn to coexist with other users of sidewalks and roads. 

“I do hope in the next 90 days that you all can sort of cut the Gordian knot on how to make this work so people in wheelchairs aren’t having to negotiate one of these lying in the way,” Pinkston said. 

Council approved the extension to 90 days.

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the January 10, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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