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Vancouver, UBC to test VeloMetro rides

By Eric MacKenzie

VeloMetro will be partnering with the City of Vancouver and UBC on pilot projects to beta test their vehicles before proceeding with plans to launch a sharing service to the public in 2017.
File photo

VeloMetro will be partnering with the City of Vancouver and UBC on pilot projects to beta test their vehicles before proceeding with plans to launch a sharing service to the public in 2017. File photo

Vancouver’s VeloMetro is getting closer to launching its vehicle-sharing service, but you’ll likely see the pedal-powered, electric-assisted transports before then.

The company is projecting a full launch in 2017, but has partnered with the City of Vancouver by providing a handful of vehicles for beta testing, and is looking to roll out an on-campus pilot project at the University of B.C.

The “Veemo,” as VeloMetro’s vehicles are called, is like a mash-up of a smart car and an electric bicycle — single-occupant, enclosed three-wheelers that are powered and steered like a bike, featuring electric assistance for hills and long-distance travel. No driver’s licence is needed.

The company wasn’t able to get its first pilot programs off the ground in 2015 as originally hoped.

“Development was a bit longer than expected, but we basically have our first three prototype vehicles in assembly right now,” said CEO and founder John Stonier. “We’ve been building all of our other systems to support a full sharing service.”

The city is planning to have staff test the vehicles as part of its Green and Digital Demonstration Program, which supports local start-ups in the clean technology and digital sectors.

“Staff will use the units for field trips and meetings. It will also allow us to help determine where these types of vehicles can function (i.e., seawall, bike lanes, streets),” Doug Smith, the city’s sustainability director, said.

Stonier said VeloMetro has been working with UBC Parking to get the school’s pilot project going in September, and that there’s been an “overwhelmingly positive” response from students.

“We’ve been talking to UBC for some time on this and they’re very excited about the prospect of having an on-campus transportation system,” said Stonier.

Stonier added that VeloMetro will be featured at the Globe Conference for green businesses in Vancouver March 2 to 4.