Bike-sharing program a big victory for KC
The Kansas City Star
On a scorcher of an afternoon, Mayor Sly James crossed the street from City Hall to Ilus W. Davis Park, took a look at 90 brand new bikes parked there, and voiced the sentiment of the moment:
“This is about as cool as you’d ever want to get.”
OK, maybe a streetcar line will be just as cool. But Tuesday’s launch of Kansas City B-cycle, a bike-sharing program, is a big step toward making Kansas City more accessible, welcoming and, yes, cool.
The Star over the last few years has advocated for more bike lanes, bike paths and other measures to make the region more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians.
The new bike-share system, which enables people to easily access a bicycle with a credit card at 12 locations between the River Market and Crown Center, is a major step in that direction.
Curious about how Kansas City B-cycle works, an editorial writer participated in the inaugural ride and returned with these observations:
The bike fleet, parked in rows in a field just north of the Heart of America Bridge, is a thing of beauty: 90 new silver-colored bikes, each with a basket, kickstand and an orange sign proclaiming “Helmet hair is sexy.”
They are heavy vehicles, meant to withstand wear and tear. But once you get started you find them sturdy and easy to ride, with comfortable seats. You won’t compete for the Tour de France on a B-cycle, but you can have a nice ride to Union Station, the Crossroads District, Sprint Center and the downtown library.
We ride over the Heart of American Bridge into downtown, using the bicycle-pedestrian walkway, which marks the first safe means of passage over the Missouri River if you’re not in a motor vehicle. Happy to report all made it across without a pileup.
The bikes have three gears, and you definitely want to be in first for the climb out of the River Market. It’s smooth sailing then to Davis Park.
Later, it’s all downhill to the B-station at 20th Street and Grand Boulevard, where the bike snaps easily into a slot, ready for the next rider.
A lot of credit for Kansas City’s newest amenity goes to BikeWalkKC, the indefatigable group that works to promote a safer climate for cyclists and pedestrians. The sponsorship of local businesses, especially Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, was crucial. The system will cost about $2 million to get started.
What’s needed now is for Kansas Citians and downtown workers and visitors to take advantage of the bikes. Adequate ridership will enable the system to be extended into midtown and south from there.
Go to http://www.kansascity.bcycle.com/ for rates and other details.