OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Rental bicycles could be scattered throughout Overland Park by next spring. The city hired a consultant to research the pros and cons of bringing a bike-share program to the biggest city on the Kansas side of the metro area.
What makes the options Overland Park is studying unique is the program wouldn't use docks or stations to collect bikes. Users would simply leave the bikes where ever they stop. Then other users would find, unlock and pay for rentals using a smartphone app.
The city's traffic engineer said the city is making a conscious effort to be more bike friendly and it wants to give residents more transportation options.
"The number of vehicles on the road contributes to things like congestion, but probably more importantly, to crashes. So every time there's a crash, there's more congestion and a potential for more crashes. If we can reduce the number of cars on the road and get people to do more things, not only will they have less congestion in their lives, they'll actually be more healthy too," explained Brian Shields, the traffic engineer.
Shields said several companies have expressed interest in setting up shop in Overland Park, and fast. Before the city agrees to any commitment, it wants to study how rollouts have gone in other cities. It's paid a consultant roughly $25,000 to do the research.
"We did a little bit of research just ahead of time and said well you know, some of these places have had problems with bikes being left in places where they shouldn't be, or maybe there's not enough bikes, or maybe there's too many bikes, even maybe too many bike companies," Shields pointed out.
The city expects the consultant to finish their study by November or December, and then the city council will have to decide how to move forward. Shields estimated the earliest a bike-share program would be available is the spring of 2019.
In the meantime, the city added 30 miles of bike lanes this year, with plans to add another 50 miles in 2019.