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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: Bike-sharing program to expand

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  • It’s hard to think of good places for bicycling when the landscape is covered in a think blanket of snow. Lucky for us a small group of committed people is doing just that on our behalf.
    Folks from BikeShareKC are finalizing plans to double the size of the locally owned and operated bike-share system.
    You may have seen these sleek, new bikes concentrated in the downtown area. According to Kansascity.bcycle.com, “Kansas City B-Cycle powered by Blue KC is a partnership between BikeWalkKC and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.” BikeShareKC is the only advocate-owned bike-share system in the country.
    Actually three entities are involved with this program, so it gets a little confusing. It looks like this: BikeShareKC (an affiliate of BikeWalkKC) owns Kansas City B-cycle (the bike-share program). BikeWalkKC is the “region’s professional advocacy and education organization working to make Greater Kansas City a better place to walk and bike for transportation, fitness, and recreation.”
    Five key points are at the root of BikeWalkKC’s services: sustainability, advocacy, health, access and economics. Obviously, the more people who ride bicycles instead of drive cars, the greater reduction of the carbon footprint of our fair city.
    BikeWalkKC hopes to become the voice and catalyst for more bike lanes, trails and other facilities. Already, B-cycle has had a great impact. GPS and a mapping system has shown that bikes have been mostly traveling along Grand and Main, in the Berkley Park trail system, and to the 18th and Vine district, Crown Center, the Plaza, and Kansas City, Kan. Based on these findings, the city made adjustments to its bike master plan.
    “Kansas City ranks too high for public health problems like obesity, diabetes, etc. Bike sharing gives people more convenient opportunities to get physical activity,” the website states. For many of our city’s bus riders, the “last mile” is problematic when trying to complete their route to work, event attractions, or other appointments. B-cycle is the ecological, economical, stress-reducing, and fun way to get to where people need to go.
    Finally, B-cycle is helping to keep and attract a vibrant, healthy workforce to the metro area. The city offers a lot in the arts, parks and other creative venues. However, if we want to retain the best and brightest, we need convenient and healthy outlets for recreation. A citywide bike-share program can be this magnet.
    As planning continues for expansion, BikeShareKC wants feedback from you as to where you think new B-cycle stations should go: the Independence Square, Swope Park, Prairie Village, or somewhere closer to home? Go to its website “contact us” tab and let them know where you think it should go. Soon you could be pedaling down the road replacing carbons, burning calories and seeing the city from a whole new perspective with a broad smile across your face!
    Page 2 of 2 - Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City, a residential energy client service coordinator certified by the National Energy Retrofit Institute, and a past nature center manager with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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