Velomobiles are basically bicycle cars. They’re human-powered vehicles that usually have a supplementary motor to make pedaling easier. What makes the velomobile different from an electric bike is the fact that it’s tri-wheeled and enclosed, allowing the rider to store things in a trunk akin to a car but also pedal and steer like a bike.
Velometro, a velomobile manufacturer from Vancouver, British Columbia broke into the sharing market with a six-month pilot run of its Veemo service on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. The pilot ended in April.
The structure of Veemo is similar to carsharing, with people joining as members and downloading an app where one can reserve vehicles for a certain amount of time. Like carsharing, rates run by the minute. As one user described the service during the pilot, “It’s pretty much like car2go but it burns calories instead.”
Veemo could be a game changer for rainy climates as the vehicle is enclosed, keeping members and their belongings dry. And the pedal-assist electric motor makes hills easier to climb while limiting speeds to roughly 20 miles per hour. Because of this distinction, the velomobile is classified as a bicycle in most jurisdictions, which negates the need for members to hold driver’s licenses. This makes membership more accessible to the growing segment of the adult population that can’t drive.
But did people actually use these strange-looking bike pods? The five velomobiles at the University of British Columbia were ridden more than a thousand times over the course of the six months. Veemo also gained about 1,200 members, according to Velometro’s website.
Given the success of its velomobile sharing pilot, Velometro plans to expand into Vancouver and is looking into other places in the Pacific Northwest and North America.
Photo from Velometro.