Electric scooters have been whizzing along city streets for about a month now as Nashua enjoys its VeoRide pilot program. The need for speed is in demand even if the adorable transporters only go 15 mph. Apparently, the “little vehicles” are a huge hit because some people are illegally hoarding them, and most people can’t locate one to hop on and cruise.
I’ve seen a few zip by my street, and mainly young people are hip to the scooter frenzy that has captured the nation. I have also witnessed teens under the required age of 18 and even younger tweens zooming through the downtown. Some were dangerously riding together on a single scooter. I haven’t seen one helmet worn by these fearless riders.
VeoRide is the same company that brought the bicycle-sharing mobility program to the Gate City. And it works on the same technology. The scooters are GPS-enabled, so you can see where they’re available on your mobile app. You pay a $1 unlock fee and an additional 15 cents per minute.
Ezra Richardson, VeoRide Fleet Coordinator for Nashua and Lowell, Mass., gave me a rundown of scooter ridership, and it’s a gangbuster. “VeoRide has had more than 5,500 scooter rides on 65 e-scooters. At any given time, the number of active scooters on Nashua streets ranges between 55-65 due to regular maintenance, battery swaps and re-balancing where scooters are parked. We plan to add another 10 active scooters into the program for a total of 75.”
Still, for a population of some 88,000, the limited supply seems to be irritating those who want to jump on but cannot locate a scooter nearby or even one that’s operable.
City residents on the Nashua, NH Civic Sounding Board Facebook group have made their complaints loud and clear. One social media user recently spotted three e-scooters parked at City Hall Plaza and decided it was time for a spin. However, he couldn’t budge any of them. “Battery not charged, strike one. Scooter not connected to internet, strike two. Ditto, strike three. These scooters have been around for a few weeks now, time to work the bugs out.”
Another said that most of the scooters have “disappeared completely off of the map, and they don’t have enough people to swap out the batteries.”
When he finally located one, he said he found that all of the scooters had suffered “broken brake cables, and the brakes didn’t work on any of them.”
What’s even more unnerving is that some e-scooter users love these mini modes of personal transportation so intensely that they’re allegedly concealing them from other would-be riders. One woman had been trying to locate a scooter via her smartphone app, saying “ My neighbor has one in her living room. I can see it on the map, but I see it in her window. Seems like there needs to be action for this.”
Another social media user complained that he, too, saw the vehicles being kept “in someone’s yard and on their porch, and that really gets me angry. I consider that theft.”
These are the kinks that VeoRide is ironing out and swiftly, says Richardson. “We have visited these places with police presence to resolve such issues.”
Richardson also stated that the VeoRide team is on top of addressing problems of daily wear and tear on their e-scooters with a full quality checklist. “We are committed to ensuring that our scooters are maintained in safe and functional condition.”
Play fair, everyone, and zoom-zoom!