Philly e-scooter startup Verve S is getting into the bike business

Kevin Thompson stands outside with a Verve S pedal bike

Kevin Thompson is the CEO of Verve S, a scooter and bike-share company trying to break into the Philadelphia market. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Philly startup that tried to bring e-scooters to its hometown is rolling into the bikeshare business.

Started by two Philadelphia natives, Verve S recently launched its first bikeshare program in Mercer County, New Jersey.

A closeup of Kevin Thompson
Kevin Thompson is the CEO of Verve S, a scooter and bike-share company trying to break into the Philadelphia market. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The program features 10 bikes in three locations: Mercer County Park, Rosedale Park, and the Red Barn at Mercer Meadows. The launch comes two years after the company’s failed attempt to launch a dockless electric scooter share program in Philadelphia.

Verve S co-founder Kevin Thompson said the New Jersey bikeshare is a milestone.

“[It] felt like all the hard work finally paid off and we had some form of progress that we could build on,” said Thompson. “It definitely is something that adds to your body of work for people who are watching to say, `Listen, man, I said I was going to do something, and I got it done.’”

Riders can check out bikes for a $1 activation fee and ride for 18 cents per minute. Thompson said the bikes are already getting some use, having logged 40 to 45 rides five days after the June 25 launch.

Darryl C. Murphy test-rides one of Verve S’ pedal bike prototypes
PlanPhilly reporter Darryl C. Murphy test-rides one of Verve S’ pedal bike prototypes that has an electric speed-assist feature. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“It’s been pretty great,” said Thompson.

In the two years since legislative roadblocks slowed and finally halted its plans to launch a dockless electric scooter share program in Philadelphia, Verve expanded its vision to other parts of the country, and offered other vehicles.

In addition to traditional bikes, the company is now looking to rent electric bicycles with a throttle on the crossbar that propels the bike without pedaling. Those bikes can go about 19 mph.

With Mercer County now in Verve’s portfolio and a prospect in Colorado, Thompson wants to take another shot at establishing a share program in Philadelphia with the electric bicycles.

A closeup of a person's hand on a Verve S pedal bike handle
Verve S pedal bikes have a speed-assist throttle that gives riders an electric boost. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“That’s our next goal,” said Thompson, “ to do business with the city of Philadelphia or partnership with some of these institutions in the city of Philadelphia.

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