HAVE CARS REACHED their peak, so to speak?
I envision myself driving around in a swanky 2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class; I would look fancy in that machine. It’s out of my range, but hey, I’m a baby boomer so I — like many of them — enjoy my possessions.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, another boomer, also adores owning stuff and has the big bucks to collect tons of things. At one time, he owned a record 46 Porsche models.
But many younger people today don’t see the car as a definition of American status and society. In fact, a study was conducted about 5 years ago indicating that people between the ages of 18 and 34 would rather give up driving than their smartphone or laptop (er, not me).
Maybe there’s truth to that in Nashua; we’re considered a small city but we have a sizable population of more than 88,000. Personal transportation here has come to mean something different these days. Our urban landscape is morphing; we’re more environmentally conscious, trying to preserve our green space, creating a more walkable downtown that serves multi purposes and attempting to attract younger people to reside in the heart of the city to work, shop, eat and play.
Digital technology is partly the reason, and “sharing” has become the key word.
Our city took part in a bike-share pilot program with a young company called VeoRide, headquartered in West Lafayette, Ind. The transportation experiment was launched last June and is ending today, on Oct. 4. After a four-month run, the shiny, turquoise-colored bicycles distributed around the Gate City for public transportation appear to have been a delightful hit.
The program began with 200 bikes available, allowing riders to locate and access them nearby via their smartphones. The app to access the bike system was free, and you couldn’t beat the price of the rental at 50 cents for every 15 minutes. The user was then billed by credit card.
The VeoRide company bikes are quality-made and sturdy and equipped with lights that automatically come on at night.
I saw these colorful bicycles being ridden solo and in groups around several neighborhoods, in the downtown and points beyond. And although VeoRide is a dockless bike-share system, never once, did I notice a turquoise bike tossed about in the middle of a sidewalk, carelessly on a curb or in the street. I always observed the bikes parked with their kickstands on. Maybe Nashua folks are just polite, obey the laws and appreciate a useful city service.
I recently spoke with Linda Jackson, VeoRide’s communications director, and she was happy to present to me some of the solid numbers coming in from the Nashua experiment.
“The City of Nashua and VeoRide are in discussions this week about a strategic market plan following the initial pilot period ending Oct. 4. We are making the decision based on ridership metrics and community interest. Based on the number of users (5,000+) and rides (10,000+) in the pilot period, both parties and VeoRiders are motivated to continue the service....”
The second largest New Hampshire city is on a roll, and Jackson revealed that VeoRide is hoping “to sign a three-year agreement within the next week to continue the service in Nashua.”
That’s wonderful news for the Gate City. I believe the demand is here for alternative personal transportation that’s healthy to engage in, inexpensive, eco-friendly, can get you where you need to be for short distances and puts a smile on your face as you pedal by.
The humble push bike never gets old.
Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.