In December, the News Tribune asked me what was on my Christmas Wish List for what I would like to see come to Jefferson City. I answered a Bike Share program. I had recently returned from an exciting trip to Portland, OR (where I got engaged PS!) and my new fiancée and I rode Nike Bikes all over town. It was incredibly fun, affordable, and a great way to explore the city.
Little did I know, Ashley Varner had been working her tail off for the past two years to do just that.
Ashley and I connected over lunch at Madison's to talk about all. the. things. We're two ladies on a mission to make things happen and by the law of attraction, the universe let us know we were supposed to meet like a magnet. She's a former Ones to Watch and Jefferson City is lucky to have her.
Without further ado, let's hop into her interview and find out all the details about all these orange bikes you've been seeing on Facebook and around town!
Tell us a little bit about you and what you do. I lead the Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities initiative in Jefferson City and Holts Summit. Specifically, I work to implement environmental and policy changes in our community to ensure the ‘healthy choice is the easy choice’ for everyone. As the Healthy Communities Coordinator, I’m sure you’ve seen some of my work; healthy concessions at JCPS and Helias Catholic, more bike lanes around town, community gardens, and upcoming bike share to name a few. I’m very active in our community, a wife, and a mother of 3 wonderful kiddos.
What is the bike share program and how does it work?
Bike share is a public bicycle system, a community amenity where bikes are made available for shared use to individuals on a short-term basis for a price. Here in Jefferson City, we launched a bike share program through a company called, Spin. Spin’s model is dockless which means bikes are available all over the city. Download Spin’s app to your smartphone, enter your payment information, get your code, and unlock your bike! That simple!
Where did this idea come from and who are the players involved in getting the launched?
This idea started 2.5 years ago by myself, the City of Jefferson, JeffTran, and JC Parks. We were a small and mighty group that was interested in bringing bike share to Jeff City to encourage more physical activity and provide a transportation alternative. We researched bike share companies, spoke with many other communities with a similar population base and topography, and completed a feasibility study. The City went out for RFP and we found that Spin was ultimately the right program for our community. We felt that the right 'home' for this program was JC Parks. I discussed this opportunity with Todd Spalding and was very excited to take this on. Amy Schroeder, Community Relations Manager with JC Parks, will now take this program forward. The City of Jefferson has no costs, our community supports cycling, our buses have the capacity to hold bicycles, and Spin offers “Spin Access”. Spin Access is a program that allows individuals without smartphones to ride the bikes. All you need is a phone that can text. Purchase a ‘Spin Access’ card for cash at a local business partner, scratch off the code, text the code to the bike to unlock it, and you are on your way! Spin Access will complement our transit system by being a ‘first mile/last mile’ amenity from bus stops and bike share will be available after the buses stop running in the evenings and weekends.
How many bikes (and scooters) will be coming to Jefferson City?
Currently, we have 75 bikes, and are expecting 75 scooters to be available soon.
Do you have sponsors?
Capital Region Medical Center houses the Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities initiative funded by the MO Foundation for Health. As the Healthy Communities Coordinator, I’ve been the main ‘driver’ for bike share to come to Jefferson City and plan to sponsor bike share through this initiative. We have other interested sponsors and will reach out to them after bikes are on the ground. Spin’s model is to get bikes on the ground and then garner sponsorship support. Sponsorship information will be available shortly after launch. If you are interested in sponsorship, please contact me at email@example.com or Amy Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can people go to find out all the information on the program?
The City of Jefferson's website has information available.
How much does it cost to rent a bike?
The cost to ride SPIN bikes and scooters is $1/30 minutes.
Are you worried about anything as you launch this program?
We anticipate ‘kinks’ to come up through the launch process and will work diligently to ensure the success of this unique opportunity for our community!
What is your ultimate dream/goal for this bike share program?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams…” My ultimate dream for this program is happening! Bike share is coming to the Capital City! We are impacting physical health by supporting this environmental change, we are growing and developing cycling infrastructure, we are a complimentary community amenity for tourism, and supporting economic development by support through Cyclist Friendly Businesses. People want to live and work in a community that provides amenities like bike share; a community that invests in itself. My desire is that our community embraces bike share with open arms! Get out and ride, especially if you haven’t in years! You are missing out!
What is your next project?
I’ve always got multiple irons in the fire..! My next project is a partnership with the Root Cellar and MO River Regional Library. Near the end of August, you will see six large planters on the green space next to the Library. This is our ‘High Street Harvest’ project. Modeled after a program called, “Edible Main Street”, we will grow herbs with the hope of inspiring people the grow their own food, use more herbs in their cooking, and engage community members in a conversation about the local food system. We aim to increase exposure to healthy foods by allowing those that pass by to sample the herbs. Each planter will have a laminated ring-bound book identifying all the herbs with photos, harvesting tips, and recipes. We will also hold cooking classes and educational classes for those interested in learning more.
This post made possible
by our Friend of the Blog:
A note from contributor, Hannah Kiddoo:
This is a great program for Jefferson City. The bikes are easy to find and use, and they are comfortable, too. I'm really impressed by the technology of the bikes. Having the app makes it easy to pay for your ride, and the solar lights and digital lock system seem sophisticated. Most recently, I rode a Spin bike downtown and cruised around the Capitol building before heading home. I have my own bike, but picking one up on the spot for a quick ride is much more convenient than hauling mine in my car.
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