Editorial: Approve plan for bike sharing

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

Expanding a bike-share service in place at the University of Kansas to other parts of the city is a smart, cost-efficient way to test demand for such a service in Lawrence.

At a meeting tonight, Lawrence city commissioners will consider approving an agreement between the city and VeoRide Inc. that would allow the bike-share company to add about 20 off-campus locations to its service. The service would continue to be run by VeoRide, at no cost to the city, but the company is requesting the city’s permission to use city right of way areas to park the bicycles.

Commissioners should approve the agreement, which is a much more sensible strategy than spending millions to try to create and operate its own bike-sharing program.

Last year, consulting firm Toole Design Group was hired to complete a $50,000 study to determine the feasibility and scope of a bike-sharing program in Lawrence. Toole’s resulting 70-page report found that downtown and the University of Kansas campus area would be the best core location for a network of short-term bicycle rentals, with additional rental stations at city trail systems and parks.

Last year’s report recommended 64 bicycle docking stations and 538 bikes equipped with tracking devices. The capital cost to implement a program of that size was estimated at $2.4 million to $4 million over five years, not including additional operating costs annually.

The VeoRide agreement eliminates the need for such costs to the city.

In April, VeoRide began operating the bike-share service at KU, distributing 180 bikes throughout the KU campus. The bikes have built-in GPS, and they are tracked and locked electronically. Riders use a smartphone app linked to their credit cards to locate, rent and unlock the bikes.

Riders pay 50 cents for every 15 minutes of use, or can pay for a day, month or yearlong passes. Those passes are $7 for 24 hours of unlimited two-hour rides, $26 for a month, and $100 for a year. Students and university employees can receive discounts on monthlong and yearlong passes.

The proposed agreement would allow VeoRide to use the city rights of way for locations throughout Lawrence, including the Lawrence Public Library, Holcom Recreation Center, Rotary Arboretum, Rock Chalk Park, Sixth Street and Kasold Drive bus stop and the Levee Trail parking lot among others. If approved, the agreement would begin this month and be effective until March 31, 2019. The city and VeoRide would have the option to mutually extend the agreement for four additional one-year terms.

The agreement provides the city with a cost-effective way to measure public interest in a bike-share program. Commissioners should approve the plan.


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