Daphne Mertens of Healthier Lyon County visited the Emporia Recreation Commission’s monthly meeting Monday to talk about the possibility of a bike share program.
She said a bike share program — which would allow people to temporarily rent bicycles from set spots around town — has been in the works for roughly a year.
“Healthier Lyon County received a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation and we have been working with the multi-use pathway planning board and the city of Emporia in order to find locations that will work well for the bike share,” Mertens said.
The group is looking at six separate locations around Emporia, including one at the Lee Beran Rec Center, one at CrossWinds Counseling & Wellness, one at Emporia High School, one at Logan Avenue Elementary School, near the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, and one near Dillons.
Ideally, according to Mertens, there would be a station accessible from every part of town so anyone could use the service.
She said the group hadn’t yet determined if the service would be free for use by everyone or if people will need to pay to use the bikes — that will ultimately be the city’s decision. The city will own this program, when all is said and done.
“Whether the program’s free or reduced cost, it’s definitely going to be free to those who need it the most,” Mertens said.
One of Healthier Lyon County’s big focuses is on helping people find the transportation they need to access health care and healthy food, such as homegrown produce. A bike share program would help with that and also give people a chance to be more physically active.
As the home of the Dirty Kanza, there are plenty of people in Emporia who like cycling, but not everyone can afford an expensive bike. This, Mertens said, could even the playing field a bit.
The commission approved a bike share station to be placed at the Lee Beran Rec Center.
Rec Center Program Supervisor Amanda Gutierrez addressed the commission as well. She talked about the possibility of purchasing new inflatable pool toys for the Jones Aquatic Center that could also be used in the indoor pool during the winter. Gutierrez said they’re looking at three different companies.
“Right now, our pools — I hate to say they’re this big, boring body of water because that’s not completely true — we do have the slides, we have the zero-depth,” Gutierrez said. “But you know, you bring in something like this, it gives the kids actually something to play on.”
Adults, she said, would also be able to use the inflatable equipment.
According to Gutierrez, this is the first in a long time such a purchase has been made. Jones Aquatic Center was constructed in 2002 and has not added amenities.
She described the inflatables as being akin to aquatic playground equipment. Gutierrez doesn’t believe the equipment would pose any special danger to users.
“There’s a danger, probably, with anything,” she said. “But these are made — they’re inflatable. But even if you fall on it, you’re going to bounce right off. You know, the biggest issue is probably getting stuck underneath — you know, if a kid somehow got underneath there. But again, that’s, you know, why we have protocols in place and why we have the lifeguards to watch things like that.”