Topeka Metro could soon shut down its bike share program

Published: Jul. 8, 2019 at 6:32 PM CDT
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After crunching the numbers, Topeka Metro said it came down to bikes or buses.

"At the end of the day, if we're not able to provide basic transportation for such as to get people to work and medical appointments through our buses, it's hard for us to justify continuing to run the bike share,” Jim Ogle, board chair for Topeka Metro, said.

Barring outside intervention, the bike share program will be eliminated Dec. 1.

It's upsetting news for community members like Michaela Saunders.

"We can't let this disappear and then three months later say, 'Oh didn't we used to have that?' Saunders said. “We're not that Topeka anymore."

Injury is keeping Saunders off the bikes right now, but she still pays the $25 yearly membership to do her part to keep the bikes in the Capital City.

"I'm one person, I don't have the money to solve the problem, I don't know exactly what the answer is, but there has to be one,” Saunders said. “Right now we have time to figure that out."

Topeka Metro says the program costs $284,000 a year to operate and brings in only $108,000 in rental fees and memberships.

Ogle says the December end date buys time for someone to step in and keep the wheels in motion.

"We're very open to hearing from any entity in the community that would like to do this, and we intend to reach out to specific entities like Parks and Rec to see if they have any interest in running the bike share,” Ogle said.

In February, Topeka's governing body rejected an attempt to increase Topeka Metro's mil levy authority. It would have meant an extra $11.50 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

The governing body could reconsider the decision in mid-August at the earliest.

"I've seen people rig the handlebars with their groceries, and I don't think we're the type of community that doesn't want that person to have that support,” Saunders said.