Solar-powered bike share station opens in Jackson County near Longview Lake

JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. -- Those who enjoy Longview Lake can now bike around the 21,000 acre park without bringing a bicycle.

Jackson County opened the first bike share station along the Longview Trail Thursday.

Seven years ago there were less than 300,000 bike share trips nationwide. Last year, that number jumped to more than 30-million, a sign that more people are demanding this sort of amenity.

"What bike share is really best at is helping non riders and beginning riders get on a bike see that it’s fun, that it’s easy, and take the next step and decide for themselves they want their own bike they want to start riding in some new places," said Eric Vaughan of BikeWalkKC, which operates the bike share program Bcycle.

Kansas City's BCycle added the solar-powered bike share station to the county's largest recreational area.

The idea is to encourage more people to try biking as a healthy way to get around.

Unlike BCycle stations in downtown and midtown Kansas City, this bike share location is designed more for recreation rather than commuting.

"I’m an avid cyclist but I’m going to admit I’m actually afraid to bike on city streets," said Jackson County Legislator Crystal Williams. "That’s one of the reasons I’m such a champion of the Jackson County parks' trails because it’s a place a lot of us can come and safely participate in hiking and biking."

The station includes a tricycle to serve folks who may have balance issues but still want to exercise in a safe environment.

Rides cost $3 for 30 minutes, but those who purchase an annual BCycle membership for $65 get unlimited rides in the metro area, and in 28 other cities across the country.

The nearly 7 mile trail in the park connects to Grandview's trail system and the station is part of BCycle's latest expansion, which includes new rental locations at UMKC, the River Market and on West 39th Street.