Since the beginning of this semester, you may have noticed brightly-colored bikes popping up all over campus. If you're like me, you may have even taken a look at one and tried to push it around, only to have an alarm start beeping to alert bystanders that you have not paid.

So, I did the hard work for you, including getting a bit of history. You're welcome.

VeoRide was started by two graduate students at Purdue University, not too far away in West Layfette, Indiana. They wanted to make an affordable, sustainable, and accessible form of public transportation. The whole app gears itself toward being environmentally friendly, even showing you the number in pounds of carbon emissions you have reduced in each trip as well as the lifetime total overall. What started as just a few bikes on the Purdue campus has expanded to several universities all over Illinois and Indiana.

The pros:
Possibly the most helpful aspect of the VeoRide program is that there are no specific docks you must return the bike to. You can end your trip anywhere; the bike is self-locking. The possible con of this arrangement; not being able to find a bike when needed is accounted for by the vast number of them. You can't walk through campus for longer than two or three minutes without spotting a few placed randomly about, and if all else fails, there are usually several parked at any given bike rack. They are a great solution when you need to get from one part of campus to the other, but don't own a bike of your own. A ten-minute walk from the Talbot laboratory to David Kinley Hall becomes a breezy three-minute bike ride. Missed your alarm and the bus? Never fear, the VeoRide bikes are here!

The cons:
VeoRide may seem like a cheaper alternative to purchasing your bicycle. After all, at "50 cents to ride," as all the bikes have emblazoned on their seats, that's less than anything you could buy at a vending machine and certainly less than feeding a meter on campus or buying a parking pass. As always, though, there is fine print. The actual price is $0.50 for every 15 minutes, and it is not pro-rated, meaning if you ride for only five minutes (as I did), you will still pay the full $0.50. But if you ride 15 minutes and 30 seconds, you will pay exactly $1.

Furthermore, you are not charged in increments of fifty-cents, but instead add a "balance" to your account (think of how IlliniCash works). The lowest amount you can choose is $5.00, meaning that is at least how much it will cost you to try the service. This can add up, even when it seems much cheaper than buying a bike in the first place. Imagine taking Uber everywhere instead of buying a car. It seems to save you money at first but costs more in the long run. They do have several plans you can purchase, from a $6.99/day pass to a $99.99/year pass. When you realize that you can buy your own decent bike for under $100, you have to wonder if this is the best deal. It might be for some, considering that when you rent rather than own, there are no maintenance costs, and you will never discover a broken lock and a missing investment. If you are an international student or any non-local student, transporting your own bike to and from home every summer could present a bit of a problem; VeoRide is a good solution.

And finally...how to use them!

First, download the app. You can find it here for Android phones, and here for Apple phones. Follow the prompts to create an account, and either add money to your balance or purchase a pass. When you want to use a bike, scan the code by the handlebars; when you hear the bike unlock, disengage the kickstand and start riding. To end your ride, put the kickstand down and relock the bicycle. The kickstand will not budge unless the bike is unlocked, so it's easy to assume that is the locking mechanism. It isn't. You'll find the locking mechanism on the back tire; a little lever that will slide a metal piece through the spokes and prevent it from moving. When the bike properly locked, the app will stop counting down and display your ride stats.

Now, stop browsing the internet, and get out there and get some exercise!

Happy riding!