New bike-sharing program coming to Johnson County, Kan., in 2018

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Officials in Johnson County, Kansas, are embracing bike-sharing.

The Mid-America Regional Council awarded transportation funding in 2014 to BikeWalkKC to expand bike sharing into Johnson County. The county hopes to begin installing its own system next spring under the BCycle banner, The Kansas City Star reported.

Residents will be able to grab a rental bike from a nearby station and return it to either the same place or another spot closer to their destination.

BCycle already operates on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area, with more than 40 stations serving residents. Johnson County hopes to place a total of 70 bikes in several parks and at the new Arts & Heritage Center.

County officials said bike sharing can be a convenient and cheap transportation option.

“It is well-documented that cycling has many benefits, including overall health and happiness,” said Megan Merryman, a project manager for the county Park & Recreation District. “It’s a low-impact exercise that is achievable for most people, and it supports an ecologically friendly transportation alternative.”

BCycle’s $65 annual pass costs less than 18 cents a day for year-round bike access with unlimited 60-minute rides. Riders would pay $2 for each additional half-hour.

“We want to take all the excuses away from people who say it’s not easy to get out and active,” said Eric Vaughan, director of bike share and business services for BikeWalkKC, which manages BCycle and will maintain the county’s bikes.

Installing the system for the county is expects to cost just under $337,000. The transportation grant will cover 80 percent of the cost, with the county paying the rest.