Have you noticed the racks of orange and white bicycles which appeared on Oct. 25 in several Johnson County Park and Recreation District parks and facilities?
The 34 bikes deployed on that date are part of a “soft launch” of a new JCPRD RideKC Bike Share program. Depending on the weather, the soft launch is expected to last until mid-November, after which the bikes will be packed up and stored until spring (tentatively mid-March) when they will be returned to the parks with more bikes at more locations for a full launch of this new program.
“Our overall goal was to provide a transportation alternative and a new way for patrons to access their parks,” said Project Manager Mark Allen. “It definitely aligns with the district’s mission to enrich quality of life. The bike share program has elements of personal health and wellness in it, but it also has a community wellness piece. By making the bikes available for rent, we’re hoping for patrons to experience more of their parks, by making it easy and affordable to get on two wheels.”
The JCPRD RideKC Bike Share Program utilizes three-speed pedal bikes and is not in any way related to a JCPRD pilot program involving two classes of electric bicycles.
For the soft launch, temporary bike hubs have been placed at six locations in four JCPRD parks and facilities. These include ten bikes on the south side of the clubhouse at Meadowbrook Park, 9101 Nall Ave., Prairie Village; four bikes near the flagpole at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park; ten bikes total including five near the flagpole at the 79th Street entrance, and five more bikes near the top of the dam near the kiosk and trailhead to the Mill Creek Streamway Park in Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa; and ten bikes total including five bikes near the marina parking lot, and another five near the Coffee Creek trailhead by Shelter 10, both in Heritage Park, 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe.
The JCPRD RideKC bicycles can be accessed by downloading the Drop Mobility app from the app store and establishing an account associated with a credit card. Users then use the app to find a hub and scan a QR code on a bicycle there, which allows the bike to be unlocked. After their ride, users return the bike to any RideKC hub - not just the ones in JCPRD facilities - lock the bike, and snap a photo to verify it was returned in good condition.
The rental cost is 10 cents per minute, but subscriptions and memberships available in the app can bring this down considerably.
When the bike share program returns next spring, there will be a total of 16 hubs and 70 bicycles. In addition to the parks listed above, there will also be hubs near the Gary L. Haller Trail in the Mill Creek Steamway Park at Lenexa’s Craig Crossing Park, 91st Street and Woodland Road, Lenexa; Arthur and Betty Verhaeghe Park on the Coffee Creek Streamway Trail, 11401 W. 167th St., Overland Park; Mid-America Sports Complex, 20000 Johnson Dr., Shawnee; and Mid-America West Sports Complex, 20200 Johnson Dr., Shawnee.
Eighty percent of the costs of purchasing the JCPRD bikes were covered by a Transportation Alternative Program federal grant administrated through the Kansas Department of Transportation. JCPRD’s bike fleet will be operated and maintained by BikeWalkKC, a regional nonprofit whose mission is to “to redefine our streets as places for people to build a culture of active living.”
The JCPRD bikes have a small front cargo basket, fenders, a front light that can be engaged at night, and a retractable locking cable beneath the seat.
Helmets are not included with the bike rentals, but users are encouraged to bring and use their own.
“I would encourage people to think about the terrain and remember their ability level before they check bikes out, and also to use the app to check the locations of the hub and have a plan for where they’re going to return it,” Allen said.