One would not expect to find a bike share program in a car dominated metropolis like Kansas City, which has the highest ratio of highway lane miles to city population in the United States. A city that has a large number of highway miles can often lead to adverse health problems like obesity and diabetes. To top it all off Kansas City also has the lowest bike and transit ridership use in the nation as well, despite having one of the largest bike and nature trail networks in the country.
BikeWalkKC, the regional bike advocacy group, is hoping to change the perception of car-dominated Kansas City to a healthier alternative of biking and public transportation. The group has a bold vision to have 75% of the city’s residents living within bike/walk friendly areas by the year 2020. This vision will be accomplished through a combination of biking policies, public education, and research for future growth of bike networks. The group’s regional efforts can be seen with the downtown metropolitan area enacting a number of complete street proposals and encouraging neighboring cities to implement bike friendly policies for future street improvements.
Kansas City’s next infrastructural project will be to implement a Bike Share program across the city in conjunction with the future streetscape improvements. BikeWalkKC will run the bike share system and organized the bike build at donated warehouse space. Having the bike build will allow for both an enthusiastic public to actively invest in a future transportation system for their city and reduce costs for the assembly of the new bikes.
With over seventy-five volunteers in two events, the Bike Build is well under way to build the ninety new bicycles for Kansas City’s B-Cycle program. Like an ant colony, BikeWalkKC strategically divided the vast number of volunteers into various stations based on their skill level. The general public can be amazing dedicated volunteers and quickly put to task the unpacking of ninety disassembled bikes onto the fabrication line. Once the last box was unpacked, various group leaders quickly integrated these volunteers into their part of the process to help foster further education.
The next step of the assembly line was putting the various pieces of the bike such as the bike seat and basket onto the bike. Keeping with the spirit of sharing, BikeWalkKC developed a smart sharing system of the tools for the bike build that allowed quick transfers between groups. As the various components came together, another group concentrated on the fine tuning of the bikes to ensure that a high-quality bike was entering the new bike share program.
The most complicated and important piece of equipment is the embedded GPS locator for the bike. Each bike’s unique key is linked to a GPS locator which tracks the bike’s location throughout the city. This will allow BikeWalkKC to track where to service more bicycles and give insight into where more bicycle kiosks can be set up for future use.
With special support from local businesses Boulevard Brewery and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, the Bike Build was a huge success for starting a new biking culture in Kansas City. The bikes will be ready for city-wide use on July 3, 2102 following the All-Star Baseball Series. The launch party will deliver get the bicycles to their docking stations ranging from the north River Market District to the south downtown areas of Union Station and Crown Center.