Author Archives: Liz Harris

RKCB e-bike backlit against a blue sky

Growing demand for RideKC Bike causes some growing pains, but there’s a cure

We know many of our customers are experiencing challenges finding bikes where they need them when they need them, with enough battery charge to get them where they want to go. 

We also know many of you rely on RideKC Bike to get to work, school, shopping, etc. Several of you even rely on bike share to maintain a no-car or car-lite household!

Many of us on the RideKC Bike and BikeWalkKC team rely on bike share ourselves, so we know how frustrating it is when a bike is not available or accessible.

So we want to give you a peek behind the bike shop curtain to share how things are going, the challenges we are facing, and what we are doing to make bikes more reliably available. 

  • Record ridership has led to particularly high demand on the fleet
  • Supply chain disruptions are still a big deal, making it difficult on operations to keep up with the high demand for our bikes
  • Hub parking incentive programs are being evaluated as a way to improve operational efficiency and make more bikes readily available for the public
  • Inflation means that money that could be going to buy new bikes instead gets used on parts and supplies
  • RideKC Bike supports a bi-state, multi-county, and regional transit funding solution
  • How you can help us pedal through the growing pains

Questions? Email us at info@ridekcbike.com to get in touch. 

Record usage 

You LOVE bike share, and it shows. Nearly every month since 2021, y’all have broken ridership records. June 2023 was the biggest month we’ve ever had, with more than 6,300 rides completed.  

“It made me actually experience parts of KC instead of just driving through them. I realized how much of the city has just passed by me through windshield glass, and how little I had truly explored.” – RideKC Bike Rider

“RideKC Bike allowed me to drop down to a “car sharing” household. I share a car with another household and make 90% of my trips via transit, RideKC Bike, or carpooling.” – RideKC Bike Rider

These numbers are phenomenal, but it means our operations crew is stretched thin. They are working seven days a week to keep up with re-balancing bikes around the city and doing maintenance to keep the bikes in good working condition. We admit that it has been a challenge for them to keep up with demand.  Unusually bad air quality and frequent ozone alerts in Kansas City g this summer make it even more difficult to work as fast as we’d like. It’s doubly frustrating for us, because  we know getting more people out of cars and onto bikes is critical for addressing the climate crisis.

If you see our crew out in the field, be sure to say hello and thank them for all they do! It means a lot to hear your encouragement when they are working extra hard to get you bikes.

RideKC Bike staff at Shawnee Mission Park
RKCB staff stocking a hub at Shawnee Mission Park.

Supply chain 

You’ve seen the headlines. Supply chains are still recovering from pandemic disruptions. The bike industry is no exception. The timeline is still significantly longer than normal to get things like tires, wheels, and tools. Batteries for e-bikes are especially difficult to get. 

This year we started upgrading to a new battery that lasts 40% longer so you can take longer trips and we can spend less time swapping batteries. But that upgrade is going slowly due to the supply chain and limited funding. We have started reconditioning old batteries to squeeze a bit more life out of them. And we upgraded our battery charging infrastructure to ensure we can keep all batteries charged and ready to deploy at all times. 

RKCB staff in the bike shop
RKCB shop staff keep our bikes rolling smoothly.

Inflation

Inflation is affecting all of us. Higher prices for bike hardware as well as operational expenses like vehicle maintenance and labor mean less money available for buying more new bikes.  Even as costs have consistently risen over the past several years, RideKC Bike has kept prices low for both our riders and our funding partners. 

How new bikes and hubs are funded 

We get requests for more bikes and new hubs all the time, and we’d love to fulfill every one of those requests, but…

RideKC Bike is operated by Bike Share KC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit partnership between BikeWalkKC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), and local counties and governments. KCATA is our title sponsor (thus “RideKC Bike”) and local governments provide about 60% of funding needed to operate, maintain, and deploy bikes.  The user fees you pay to unlock and ride a bike only cover 20% of what it costs us to maintain, repair, and insure the bike. 

As a mission-based nonprofit working towards mobility justice, we keep our prices as low as possible. We have not raised our rates since we began transitioning to e-bikes in 2019. We are currently in active discussions with local governments about increasing their investments in the bike share system. Those discussions are positive, but it takes time to secure new funding and procure new equipment. 

How is RideKC Bike funded?
When we launched in 2012, we were among only a handful of public/non-profit bike share operators in the US!

Corporate sponsorships and advertising are also important parts of our revenue model. Unfortunately, the pandemic prompted many corporations to change or scale back their charitable giving and corporate social responsibility programs. Cities with more corporate headquarters have better luck getting big investment in bike share (e.g. Nike in Portland, Hulu in Los Angeles, Citibank in New York).

SHOUT OUT to great corporate citizens like Tiehen Realty, Woodside Village, Aspiria (the former Sprint Campus), Boulevard Brewing, and others for investing in bike share hubs for their tenants, customers, and visitors. HINT:  We need more businesses to become bike share sponsors! If you are a business owner and want to learn more about becoming a sponsor and promoting bike share to your customers, email Eric Vaughan at .

Foundations and philanthropy are important for nonprofit bike share programs in many cities around the country, but here in Kansas City the philanthropic community has not been as receptive to investing in bike share specifically, and in transportation and mobility generally. We are very grateful for some early investments from Founding Sponsor Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City (now the Health Forward Foundation), and the H&R Block Foundation. The reality is we need more funders willing to invest in transportation solutions that mitigate climate change and are accessible to all residents.

The Kansas City region has underinvested in public transit, including bike share. Per capita, we spend less on transit than almost all comparable midwest cities. That’s why RideKC Bike and our partners at BikeWalkKC support the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance’s work to advocate for a bi-state, multi-county, and regional transit funding solution that will reduce the reliance on KCMO taxpayers for a transit system that adequately serves the entire region.

RKCB hub sponsored by Kansas City Freight House

“As new residents and businesses continue to move into the neighborhood we need to refocus our transportation strategies away from a strictly car centric approach and begin to enhance our pedestrian and bike experiences.” – Nicholas Grünauer, owner of Kansas City Freight House and the Grünauer restaurant, which sponsors a RideKC Bike hub to benefit their customers, staff, and neighbors.

How you can help

  • Use the RideKC Bike app to locate bikes and to find out their battery status for any advance trip planning.
  • As much as possible, please return bikes to a hub at the end of your trip to cut down on the time it takes our team to retrieve bikes and restock the hubs.
  • Let your city know that you want more bikes! Reach out to the mayor and city council members in your community.
In our region, there are a number of cities that invest in and offer bike share, including KCMO, NKC, KCK, Lenexa, and Johnson County Parks & Recreation District. Let them know that bike share is a valuable resource and that you want to see it expanded to better meet your needs for transportation, recreation, and health. We want local governments to view bike share as a quality-of-life amenity for its residents. 
 
With more local support, RideKC Bike can expand the bike share fleet to meet residents’ high demand:
  • If you work for a company that offers grants or sponsorships to nonprofit organizations, please reach out to the leadership and ask them to consider adding bike share to their philanthropic priorities. 
  • If you work for a real estate development or property management company, ask them to sponsor a bike share hub at their office building or apartment complex. 
  • If your business is located in a community improvement district, ask them to partner with RideKC Bike.

Thank you

Thank you for making RideKC Bike a phenomenal success. We are working hard to increase our capacity to meet demand and your expectations. Thank you for your patience and patronage as we work through these growing pains to bring you the bike share system you want and deserve!
May is Bike Month! 30% off Annual RideKC Bike Memberships with code BIKEMONTH23

Bike Month Special: 30% off Annual Memberships

Bummer! This special offer is no longer available.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May is Bike Month! To celebrate, RideKC Bike is offering steep discounts on our Annual Memberships. RideKC Bike Annual Members get 80 minutes of free ride time every day with no unlock fees, and when you use code BIKEMONTHKC23 in May, you can ride for less than 30 cents a day.

How to get 30% off an Annual RKCB Membership:

1. Download the RideKC Bike app from your Apple or Google app store and create an account.

2. Redeem the code in "Coupons and Credits" before you select pricing and membership. Redeeming the code will automatically select an Annual Membership and activate the 30% discount.

3. Confirm your purchase and enjoy your ride!

This offer is valid May 1-31 and is good for new and renewing members only. It does not apply to current members. Ride time beyond the 80 free minutes per day costs 15 cents per minute. Users may incur an extra fee for parking a bike without ending their trip or using the cable lock, or for parking a bike in a manner that blocks an access point.

Need more details? Read our Ride With Us guide.

How to navigate the NFL Draft events with RideKC Bike

RideKC Bike at the NFL Draft

Are you headed to the NFL Draft events April 27-29? If you’re taking a RideKC Bike, we have some tips to help you roll smoothly.

How to navigate the NFL Draft with RideKC Bike:

  • Park your car outside the downtown area. We suggest using your RideKC Bike app to choose an area with plenty of bikes available (Country Club Plaza, Midtown, North KC, or KCK are good bets)
  • Use the app to find a bike near you and check its battery level.
  • When you pedal up to the crowd, lock up the bike at a public bike rack, street sign, or other fixed object. Please do not lock the bike to a bus stop or street car stop, handrail, or private property, and make sure your bike isn’t blocking a sidewalk, stairway, doorway, or other access point.

Don’t panic if you can’t get a signal:

Event organizers are warning that cell phone service may be spotty with so many people downtown. This could impact the reliability of our app and your ability to start/end trips.

  • If you are unable to end your trip and upload a photo, please contact customer support through the app. We will reply and reverse any overage fees within 24 hours.
  • We recommend using a credit card instead of a debit card if possible, to avoid tying up your funds and to allow for a faster refund if needed.
  • During especially busy times, you may need to wait for crowds to disperse and cell service to return before you can unlock a bike.

Missouri classic pedal bikes retiring in 2022

Thanks to new investment from the City of North Kansas City, the pedal bikes in that community will be replaced with new e-bikes!

Starting January 17, RideKC Bike will discontinue the legacy pedal bike fleet in Missouri, which is now ten years old and at the end of its useful life. The pedal bikes in the Johnson County Parks District will remain in service and are not impacted by this transition.

We will be closing the pedal bike hub at Longview Lake, but we are working with Jackson County Parks+Rec to identify opportunities to add a new e-bike hub in the future. In the meantime, your RideKC Bike membership continues to be valid anywhere in the metro area. You can use your RideKC Bike app to find similar trail-based hubs located along the Trolley Track Trail in Kansas City, MO and several parks and trails in Johnson County.  

Retired pedal bikes will be donated to Des Moines B-cycle. They will be upcycled for use as replacements for the bike share system in that city.

Contact us at info@ridekcbike.com with any questions or concerns. 

 

RKCB e-bike backlit against a blue sky

Electric-assist RideKC Bikes coming to North Kansas City

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 13, 2023

The City of North Kansas City will soon upgrade the bicycles available and the parking rules for its bike share program. Beginning January 17, 2023, a new fleet of smart electric-assist RideKC Bikes will be replacing the classic pedal bikes. The e-bikes feature electric motors that will give riders a boost when they engage the pedals and solid tires that never go flat.

Formerly, the City of North Kansas City required riders to park and lock RideKC Bikes at designated RideKC Bike hubs. The new rule takes advantage of the e-bikes’ smart “lock-to” technology, allowing users to use the built-in lock to secure bikes at existing RideKC Bike hubs, or any publicly-available bike rack within the RideKC Bike service area, which now includes North Kansas City.

This lock-to technology ensures that bikes are parked responsibly and out of the public right-of-way. RideKC e-bikes feature on-board GPS, which notifies local operating staff when the equipment needs servicing, charging, or is improperly parked.

Pricing, user instructions, and a link to download the RideKC Bike can be found on RideKC Bike’s website: www.ridekcbike.com/ride-with-us/. Locations for all RideKC Bikes and parking hubs are available in the RideKC Bike app.

“North Kansas City is proud to offer electric-assist bikes as a more accessible, equitable and healthier mobility option,” says Bryant DeLong, North Kansas City Mayor. “Electric-assist bikes help advance the priorities of the NKC Bike Master Plan and further positions our city as a leader in micromobility and transit in the region”

“Residents are really looking forward to electric bikes,” says Eric Vaughan, director of bike share with BikeWalkKC. “We are excited to be a part of North Kansas City’s future of connectivity.”

The public and members of the media are invited to an event launching the new fleet of electric-assist RideKC Bikes on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 4 p.m. at North Kansas City City Hall (2010 Howell Street).

##

About RideKC Bike: Launched in 2012, RideKC Bike is the Kansas City metropolitan area’s community bike share program and is operated by BikeWalkKC and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. The system provides a unique integration of public transit and shared use mobility for residents and visitors. The bike share program is a part of the RideKC regional transit family of mobility services, including bus, MAX, streetcar, paratransit, and bike share services. For more information, please visit www.ridekcbike.com.

CONTACTS:

Eric Vaughan
Director of Bike Share, BikeWalkKC
816-945-9545
eric.vaughan@bikewalkkc.org

Kim Nakahodo
Deputy City Administrator, City of North Kansas City
816-274-6000
knakahodo@nkc.org

RideKC Bike hub at Independence and Woodland

Partnership brings a new RideKC Bike hub to KCMO’s Historic Northeast

Through a new partnership with Independence Avenue CID, Kansas City University, and Jerusalem Farm, RideKC Bikes are available at a new hub on Independence Avenue as of November 8th. The hub is located at Independence Ave and Woodland Ave, but any bike rack in the neighborhood will be able to be used as a parking location.

These bikes complement the existing RideKC Bike fleet located at locations throughout Greater Kansas City, with 45 hubs in Kansas City, MO. This system features an electric-assist bike model that operates in a hybrid “dockless” format. Bikes are located at bike rack “hubs” in each location, which can be found using the RideKC Bike app.

The RideKC Bike system allows users to scan a bike to check it out, ride it safely, and then return it at any authorized hub location. Every bike has both a cable lock that wraps around a fixed object, and a wheel lock that automatically closes through the rear wheel, ensuring responsible parking. Bikes are one dollar to unlock and 15 cents per minute.

Click here to learn more about using RideKC Bike

About RideKC Bike: RideKC Bike is a partnership of BikeWalkKC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and the City of Kansas City, MO. The system provides a unique integration of public transit and shared use mobility. Fleets of traditional pedal bikes and electric-assist bikes provide residents and visitors with healthy, sustainable options for getting around the Kansas City metro. BikeWalkKC is the owner/operator of RideKC Bike.

Get to work with Mobility KC

How do you get to work every day? Subscribe to the Mobility KC newsletter to keep up on transportation and jobs access news in the Kansas City region. Published by the MidAmerica Regional Council's RideshareKC program with support from the Ride KC family of transportation services including RideKC Transit, Rideshare KC, KC Streetcar, RideKC Bike, and RideKC Vanpool, Mobility KC seeks to connect employers with cleaner, greener, and more efficient ways to get their employees to work.

It's time to mobilize, Kansas City!

Ten years of bike share in the KC metro

Can you believe it? RideKC Bike is celebrating our 10th Anniversary this month!

Kansas Citians were SO excited to see bike share come to town in 2012. BikeWalkKC launched one of the first bike share systems in the United States, and one of only two non-profit systems. Old-timers will remember that back then, we called ourselves Kansas City BCycle. We knew easy bike rental could be a game changer for our city, and we had big dreams of providing inexpensive, green transportation for residents and visitors.

Bikes were pedal-only, and required docking at designated hubs. We started with just a few locations in the downtown and midtown areas of Kansas City, Missouri, and the bikes were an instant hit.

David J. tried out our bikes at a 2011 First Fridays pop up before we officially opened in 2012.

Now we're RideKC Bike, sponsored by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and part of the RideKC family of transit options. We are still operated by BikeWalkKC, and our team of customer service agents and bike techs is still local. Our bikes are lighter, faster (thanks to electric-assist), and available across Kansas City, Missouri, North Kansas City, Kansas City, Kansas, Lenexa, Kansas, select Johnson County parks, and Longview Lake in Jackson County. Stay tuned on social media (@ridekcbike on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) and subscribe to our newsletter for more blasts from the past and sneak peaks at the future of bike share in the KC metro. 

Take 30% off an Annual Membership with code YEAR10KC on the RideKC Bike app. 

How to get 30% off an Annual RKCB Membership:

1. Download the RideKC Bike app from your Apple or Google app store and create an account.

2. Redeem the code in "Coupons and Credits" before you select pricing and membership. Redeeming the code will automatically select an Annual Membership and activate the 30% discount.

3. Confirm your purchase and enjoy your ride!

This offer is valid July 1-31 and is good for new and renewing members only. It does not apply to current members. Need more details? Read our Ride With Us guide.

 

RKCB hub sponsored by Kansas City Freight House

Press Release: Kansas City Freight House and RideKC Bike Connect the Crossroads With RideKCBike Hub and Parking for Dozens of Bicycles and Scooters

Kansas City Freight House is partnering with BikeWalkKC and RideKC Bike to provide multi-modal parking and bike share in the Crossroads District. Freight House is sponsoring a RideKC Bike hub, and has installed scooter parking and custom-branded racks for up to 30 bicycles - without removing any car parking.

Research shows that people who walk and bicycle for transportation visit local businesses more often, and spend more money over time, than drivers do. And infrastructure improvements like good sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-modal parking zones slow car traffic and improve community health and safety for residents, employees, and visitors.

Home to over 2000 residents, plus art studios, small grocers, shops, and restaurants, the Crossroads District is a neighborhood and a destination. In recent years, First Friday events have transformed the area into a car-free plaza for art lovers one evening every month. Kansas City Freight House’s investment in bicycle and scooter parking complements the Crossroads’s emphasis on people-centered spaces and community connection.

“Kansas City Freight House is investing in the future of their business and their neighborhood. RideKC Bike has made working closely with the local business community a priority, and this project is another great example of the community’s ongoing support,” says Eric Vaughan, Director of Bike Share at RideKC Bike.

“This new bike share hub is a prime example of how public/private partnerships can benefit Kansas City,” said Kansas City, Missouri City Manager, Brian Platt. “These are smart investments that leverage and amplify the City's commitment to healthy and sustainable transportation and coordinate with the City’s existing efforts to continue building out the network of protected bicycle facilities, prioritize our Vision Zero initiative, and invest in safe, accessible, multimodal infrastructure.”

We have been a part of the Crossroads neighborhood for 12 years and couldn't be more excited about the growth we have witnessed and realize there is much more on the way.  As new residents and businesses continue to move into the neighborhood we need to refocus our transportation strategies away from a strictly car centric approach and begin to enhance our pedestrian and bike experiences.  While the new bike share is a small start we have more projects on the way to improve our connectivity both on site and in the neighborhood.  We look forward to a more walkable and bikeable community,” says Nicholas Grünauer, owner of Kansas City Freight House and the Grünauer restaurant.

 ###

About RideKC Bike: RideKC Bike is a partnership of BikeWalkKC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and the City of Kansas City, Missouri. The system provides a unique integration of public transit and shared use mobility. Fleets of traditional pedal bikes and electric-assist bikes provide residents and visitors with healthy, sustainable options for getting around the Kansas City metro. BikeWalkKC is the owner/operator of RideKC Bike. Learn more at www.ridekcbike.com.

About Kansas City Freight House: Located in the heart of the cultural Crossroads Arts District, the historic Kansas City Freight House building is home to three restaurants, Jack Stack Barbecue, Lidia’s Kansas City, and Grünauer.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Amy Scrivner
513-919-9613
amy.scrivner@bikewalkkc.org

Club Woodside and Kansas City Freight House are RideKC Bike’s newest hub sponsors

Two local businesses make private investments in public good

Club Woodside in Westwood, Kansas and Kansas City Freight House in the Crossroads District in Kansas City, Missouri are RideKC Bike's newest hub sponsors, with each offering distinct amenities.

Club Woodside, located between hubs in KCMO's Country Club Plaza and KCK's Rosedale, provides bike share access in an area previously not served by RideKC Bike. They purchased custom, Woodside-branded racks for both personal bicycles and RideKC bikes, and they are also sponsoring free annual RideKC Bike memberships for all club members.

Kansas City Freight House is also sponsoring a RideKC Bike hub, and has installed custom-branded racks for up to 30 bicycles, as well as established a scooter parking zone. Home to over 2000 residents, plus art studios, small grocers, shops, and restaurants, the Crossroads District is a neighborhood and a destination. Freight House’s investment in bicycle and scooter parking complements the Crossroads’s emphasis on people-centered spaces and community connection.

"RideKC Bike has made working closely with the local business community a priority, and these projects are great examples of the community’s ongoing support,” says Eric Vaughan, Director of Bike Share at RideKC Bike.

Research shows that people who walk and bicycle for transportation visit local businesses more often, and spend more money over time, than drivers do. And infrastructure improvements like good sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-modal parking zones slow car traffic and improve community health and safety for residents, employees, and visitors. RideKC Bike and BikeWalkKC offer low-cost, high-quality bike racks, wellness program consulting services, and more to help your business welcome employees and customers who arrive by bike. Get in touch and let us help you become a bike-friendly business!