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Electric bicycles to compete with scooters for urban riders

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The scooters are getting some competition for travelers on urban streets.

Ride KC is launching an electric bicycle program, designed to transport people to places where the bus or streetcar can't take them.

Electric scooters lined up on downtown street corners have become a common sight. Right next them in many places, bike racks have been in place for years.

The Area Transit Authority, in partnership with BikeWalk KC and Drop Mobility are going to take advantage of all the existing bike racks to deploy 150 electric bicycles.

There's a new electric bike system in town.

The electric motors in bicycles are more powerful than the motors in scooters. They help riders get up hills and pedal around smoothly, going farther than they may on their own.

And unlike scooters, which have been criticized by city leaders for blocking sidewalks and the public right-of-way, electric bikes are always locked up to a rack or other fixed objects.

"Wherever you would park your own bike is where you would park one of these bikes," said Qiming Weng, CEO of Drop Mobility. "That's something familiar to all of us. Something that's not ever been an issue in the past. It’s just as much flexibility as you’ve always had. You can ride your bike anywhere."

Just like scooters, there will be an initial fee to unlock the bike and then a per minute charge that hasn't been set yet. Weng says it will be very competitive to what the scooter companies charge.

About one-third of bike share customers already use regular bicycles to link to public transit. This may make it easier for others to get some help on their last mile home, especially if it's hilly.

Ride KC also will offer a shared transit and bike pass so you can both ride the bus and an electric bike for the same monthly fee.