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New bikesharing service offers ‘Uber-like’ transportation for students at KU

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- A ride to school is as close as your mobile phone at KU.

Students at the University of Kansas have a whole new way to travel across campus. Technology is helping keep the wheels of a new bike-sharing program rolling on Mount Oread, built on a business model that would remind users of Uber.

No more waiting for transportation across the KU campus. If you can ride a bike, the new Veoride bikesharing system makes two wheels available to anyone willing to share. 180 of these colorful bikes are there for use on campus in Lawrence, on a big tract of land that measures nearly 1.75 square miles.

Veoride's promoters said the bikes, which can be found in bike racks across campus, eliminate the need for a bus ride or parking space. The system's mobile app uses a QR code, which unlocks the bicycles for use and helps interested riders to locate the bikes. Veoride's platform reminds some users of the system used by carsharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

"Our engineering team specially designed the Veoride bike," Candice Xie, Veoride's Chief Operating Officer, told FOX4.

Xie, 24, is originally from China and came up with the idea for a bike-sharing system while attending Purdue University in Indiana, which is also a large campus and, at times, tough to cross while commuting to class. Veoride continues to call West Lafayette, Indiana, its home base.

"Parking is always a pain in a big city and on a big college campus. Biking is the easiest way to get from point A to point B," Xie said. "The bus isn't always there on time, and parking is really painful. The bike is the easiest way to go."

Xie showed FOX4 the GPS unit that keeps Veoride bicycles from being stolen and the solar panel that powers the headlights. KU students said the bike-sharing program will make their commutes to class easier.

"Having the app have that feature allows me to realize where I am and what's the quickest way to a bike, especially when it's one of my first times using it in that area," said Jacob Burton, a freshman from Lee's Summit.

"Riding a bike is 100 times easier than parking and walking, especially on this campus with our hills. The bikes will be right there -- convenient to grab," said Karen Lewis, a graduate student from nearby Eudora.

Xie said Veoride is already in use at universities in six U.S. states, and while it offers a convenient lift, it's also a means for students to stay in shape as they ride from class to class. Xie said the company will add to the 180 bikes stationed on campus in Lawrence within the near future.

Veoride's managers said KU's students can ride for free for the first two weeks and, after that, riding can be as cheap as 50 cents. Weekly and monthly passes are also available for purchase. Xie, and the company, were the subjects of a high-profile story in Forbes Magazine last week.