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Sponsored by RideKC Bike + Scooter
It's been seven years since RideKC Bike + Scooter (formerly Kansas City BCycle) began offering classic bikes for shared public use in Kansas City's urban core. In 2018, RideKC Bike+Scooter added new electric bikes and scooters, which instantly became popular.
“We have 150 electric-assist bikes, 200 classic pedal-powered bikes and 200 electric scooters,” says Eric Vaughan, Director of Bike Share & Business Services.
The RideKC Bike+Scooter program is a public/private/nonprofit partnership between the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and the City of Kansas City, Missouri; Drop Mobility, and BikeWalkKC. This regional transit family now includes electric scooters, classic or pedal-assisted bicycles, as well as buses, on-demand microtransit, RideKC Freedom taxi service and the Kansas City Streetcar.
Patrons can ride scooters and e-bikes for free on the first try after downloading the Drop Mobility app. Full day, monthly and annual memberships can be purchased through the app. Considered the strongest, most reliable scooters available, the RideKC Scooters cost only $1 to unlock and then 15 cents per minute of use.
Electric-assist bicycles cost 10 cents per minute while classic bikes go for $3 per half hour, with several membership levels available. “Lock-to" technology allows riders to park and then secure their rental vehicle to a stationary object, resulting in minimal instances of theft or vandalism and keeping the bikes and scooters out of the pedestrian right-of-way.
RideKC Bike+Scooter tracks usage by number of checkouts, with steady ridership growth. There's also been plenty of demand, particularly used in conjunction with another transit service. In fact, 64 percent of all trips start and end within a block of a transit stop. And different age groups generally seem to prefer different vehicles.
“A fitness enthusiast may be fine with a classic bicycle,” says Vaughan. “An older or less experienced customer may prefer an electric bicycle, and a millennial may prefer to use a scooter.”
Currently operating in Kansas City, MO, and North Kansas City (pedal bikes only), the program will put more classic bikes in nearby Johnson County, KS, parks by year's end. It has also received a grant to work with adjacent Wyandotte County, KS, in 2021.
“We are setting the model for jumping into some of the electric modes and the transit authority gets a lot of credit for this,” says Vaughan.
Colorado Springs has incorporated similar offerings and Vaughan frequently talks to other interested cities. RideKC Bike+Scooter has also hosted representatives from four additional cities, with more planning visits soon. Regardless, Vaughan knows the local appeal is there.
“It's fun, it's convenient, it's green and it's very economical.”