Easy Rider

I Tried Sarasota's New Veo Scooter Rental—and Liked it

The new 'micro-mobility' Veo program lets riders rent bikes and scooters for an hourly rate.

By Kim Doleatto March 28, 2022

Two friends at a Veo scooter corral in Sarasota.

Ride or die.

Image: Kim Doleatto

A mix of fear and jubilation led to a solid laughing-out-loud session when my friend and I tried out Sarasota's new Veo scooter system this weekend. Speeding around, we agreed these scooters deliver just plain, wholesome fun.

If you haven't seen them, the Veo scooters are one of the new “micro-mobility” transportation options now available citywide. The program lets users rent Veo’s Cosmo seated scooter, an Astro standing scooter or the Halo pedal bike through the Veo smartphone app. Roughly 375 scooters and 75 bicycles will soon be available, with perhaps more to come if people use and enjoy them.

Veo is easy to set up. First, download the free app on your phone. Have your driver's license ready, since it will ask you to scan it with the phone’s camera to confirm your age and ID. Next, complete a simple safety quiz and add funds to your account. I added $10 through my credit card, since it didn’t accept PayPal or Venmo.

I appreciated being able to add my friend to my ride, a feature the app calls “Group Ride,” so she didn't have to set up her own account to use Veo. She did, however, have to scan her license.

Neither of us had ever been cool enough to master a scooter, and we both had hoped to rent the Veo pedal bikes, but the map on the app showed none were available at the time. My guess was probably because more people know how to bike, and they’re less costly. Scooters cost $1 to unlock and 37 cents per minute to use. Bicycles cost 50 cents per half-hour. But: no bikes, no problem. Our helmets were on and there was no turning back.

After locating the seated scooters on the app's map, we picked them up from a corral at Lemon Avenue and Fourth Street, in front of the Mandeville Beer Garden just north of downtown Sarasota. I scanned the QR code between the handlebars and the clock started ticking.

The “Go” button, positioned for the right thumb, is the throttle. When engaged, it feels like warp speed at first, though you're only going 15 miles an hour. We found there was no “mid-way” speed level, so we’d accelerate, then let go of the button to slow down. (After our session, we learned riders can select a training mode that restricts the speed to 8 miles per hour, but we speed freaks are glad we didn’t know that.)

Two women taking a selfie on Veo seated scooter rentals in Sarasota

We took our Veo seated scooters to Gillespie Park in Sarasota.

Image: Kim Doleatto

There are lots of bike lanes, plus the new Legacy Trail to hop onto, but my personal favorite non-car travel remains the often pedestrian-free streets of residential neighborhoods. We zoomed by the colorful homes in Gillespie Park as people waved to us from their front porches, stopped to pet some friendly cats and ended up at actual Gillespie Park among the ducks by the pond.

It was so fun that I was charged close to $30 for both of us for 39 minutes. Even though I had only loaded the account with $10, the ride doesn’t abruptly stop, thankfully. But there's no indication you've reached your deposit limit, so set a timer to avoid going over budget. The remaining balance gets charged to the card on file.

Like a stealthy Prius, the Veo offers a smooth, quiet ride and there’s no horn or bell, so if you have to let someone know you’re behind them, get vocal. Turn signals would be nice, but you can always use your hands as you might on a bike. The seated scooters do, however, have a red brake light on the back of the seat.

The red boundary on the Veo app map shows the area where your scooter “lives.” While you can ride in- or outside of that area, you can only end your trip, and stop the fare, inside the service area. We kept it simple and brought ours back to where we first got them, making a pact to do it again soon.

Veo provides a low-access and low-income program for those who qualify. Call (855) VEO-2256 or visit the Veo website and locate the application for the Equity Manager. Check out more FAQs here.

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