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Summit County adds electronic bike stations to ease traffic congestion

PARK CITY, Utah -- Summit County, Park City and the Utah Transit Authority are teaming up to ease traffic congestion.

Summit County used a UTA grant and tax money to purchase 87 electronic bikes at nine stations around Kimball Junction at a cost of $500,000.

The bikes feature a motor that helps the rider maintain a speed of 15 mph.

“When people come to Kimball Junction they can jump on a bike, they can go do errands in this area,” said Kim Carson of the Summit County Council. “They can go into Park City and trade out bikes there, so it’s an important part, it’s a key piece of this overall transportation planning.”

Carson said the bikes are an integral part of their sustainability program. The goal is to get people out of their cars, especially during the weekends when the resort town's traffic can be a real headache.

“Anyone that's been up here on a holiday weekend or during Sundance or even just busy mornings and afternoons have experienced the traffic,” Carson said.

Park City Mayor Jack Thomas is trying to set an example.

“I’ve been riding my bike for about three months to and from work, and it’s a great experience,” Thomas said. “An amazingly efficient and an enjoyable process.”

Thomas says the experience of riding the bike reminds him to appreciate the journey, and not just focus on the destination. Thomas said the e-bikes are easy to operate.

“They’re battery operated, meaning they don’t require anything more than your ability to steer and peddle—there is some peddling required,” he said.

The bikes are easy to rent. You can sign up ahead of time online, buy a yearly pass for $90 or a one-time pass at the charging stations for $2. They're also easy to ride.

“It’s a slight learning curve, but one that you get onto: it’s as easy as riding a bike,” Thomas said.

The city and county leaders want to expand the program, and six more stations are in the works. They hope to create a fleet of 250 bikes.

“We hope that we get sponsors for them and we can keep adding them as businesses see that it's an asset for them to have them at their locations, we hope to see an increase in the number,” Carson said.

Mayor Thomas says the bikes are a great way to experience the community he loves.

“It’s the best way to unfold Park City, is either walking or riding a bike,” he said.