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Wichita now has 1,000 electric scooters to rent as new option arrives

Test driving VeoRide, the newest electric scooter in Wichita

Wichita Eagle reporter Dion Lefler field tests a VeoRide electric scooter in Old Town. VeoRide this week became the second company to rent out scooters in the city. (Aug. 14, 2019)
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Wichita Eagle reporter Dion Lefler field tests a VeoRide electric scooter in Old Town. VeoRide this week became the second company to rent out scooters in the city. (Aug. 14, 2019)

There’s a new scooter in town. Or more accurately, about 500 new scooters in town.

Chicago-based VeoRide rolled out 500 of its scooters onto Wichita’s streets this week, bringing the number of electric rental scooters based here to about 1,000.

Boston-based Zagster rolled out its local fleet of 500 Spin scooters almost exactly a month ago, getting the jump on the Wichita market.

VeoRide claims it has a better scooter design than the competition and hopes to catch up quickly. VeoRide scooters have a wider deck, longer wheelbase and bigger tires than the competition.

Luis Lopez of Wichita has ridden them both and he gave the VeoRide scooter higher marks.

The bigger tires soaked up vibration better on the rough brick streets of Old Town, he said.

“That was one of the major problems you’d run into with the other ones, you’d shake a lot when you’re running into the brick,” Lopez said.

While all rental scooters are limited to 15 mph by city ordinance, the VeoRide takes off quicker, he said.

“I like it so far,” he said. “I’m definitely going to use this one now more.”

Both companies’ scooters cost the same to rent: $1 to start a ride and 15 cents a minute after that. And they both rent using an app that’s available through the Apple and Google Play stores.

Wichita recently passed regulations on e-scooter usage, hoping to avoid problems that have surfaced in some cities where they operate unregulated.

Under Wichita’s rules:

▪ Operators have to be 18 or older to rent a scooter.

▪ The top allowable speed of rental scooters is 15 mph.

▪ Scooters won’t be allowed on any sidewalks, or streets where the speed limit for cars is more than 35 mph.

▪ Scooters have to automatically shut down at dusk or 9 p.m., whichever comes first.

▪ City staff can immediately impound any scooter that’s blocking traffic or otherwise creating a hazard.

The rules apply only to rental companies.

Privately owned scooters and electric skateboards were exempted after suburban owners objected to the rules, saying they would be impractical in east and west Wichita, where the speed limits on local streets are higher.

Dozens of new electric scooters were deployed in downtown Wichita on Monday morning. Wichita Eagle reporter Dion Lefler took one out for a test ride.

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Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.
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