Angela Mecca and Clara Niel
As the novel coronavirus outbreak escalates, the University of Maryland has asked VeoRide — a shared scooter and bike company that operates at the school and in the surrounding city of College Park — to suspend operations on the campus.
The on-campus suspension will be lifted when the outbreak is “under control,” according to a statement from the university’s Department of Transportation Services.
Matthew Briggs, the company’s regional manager, said VeoRide will continue to operate off the campus grounds in College Park. The company is currently in the process of removing VeoRide bikes and scooters from the campus and placing them in other parts of the city, he added.
Briggs expressed hope that continuing services in the city will provide residents with a safe means of transportation during the pandemic.
“Our general position is that we want to continue to serve our customers and our communities as best we can,” he said. “We want to be able to stand up and — once we get to the other side of this — say, ‘We were here for folks.’”
To ensure people are able to use VeoRide vehicles safely during the outbreak, Briggs said the company has been “aggressive” in its sanitation efforts. Any time a staff member picks a bike or scooter up or charges its battery, he said they also wipe down its main touch points with disinfectant. Riders are also encouraged to take proper precautions while using a vehicle, Briggs added.
The removal of VeoRide vehicles from the campus comes amid other transportation service suspensions at the university, including Shuttle-UM and the Motorist Assistance Vehicle. The university has also made all parking on the campus — including visitor parking — free.
Additionally, WMATA closed the College Park Metro Station — along with 16 other stations — on March 26. Even so, transit construction projects, such as the construction of the Purple Line, are set to continue as planned, city manager Scott Somers said during a city council meeting two weeks ago.
The city has also stalled its parking enforcement efforts for the time being, putting a pause on issuing new parking permits and parking citations. This decision — as well as the decision to stall home code inspections, animal control patrols and other city services — was motivated by safety concerns, city spokesperson Ryna Quinones said.
“The first and foremost concern is safety,” she said. “Safety and security of not only our residents, but our staff as well.”