Because of a group of middle school students, Stark County has a new program – BikeSmart Stark County's Bike Share.

Because of a group of middle school students, Stark County has a new program – BikeSmart Stark County's Bike Share.

The BikeSmart program is a bike share program through the Stark County District Library, in collaboration with Stark Parks and Canton Parks and Recreation.

The idea came from the students attending a TomTod Dreamoratory session. The students came up with the concept of a bike-rental system and presented their idea to local officials. The idea was researched and the three entities agreed to evenly divide the cost for the project and work with a bike-share company that maintains programs in other cities, Zagster.

Zagster was founded in Philadelphia in 2007 and leads the way in providing private and public bike sharing systems across North America.

The students’ idea is up and running in six locations: The Main Library, the Jackson Township Library, Perry Sippo Exploration Gateway, Canton Garden Center, Schneider Park/Middle Branch Trail and the Edward "Peel" Coleman Southeast Community Center.

BikeSmart is free to Stark County District  Library card holders, but available to anyone over the age of 18 for a small fee with the use of a credit card.

Deputy Director for the Stark County Library District Jean Duncan McFarren said it is so exciting to have this program in Stark County.

"At the June kick-off, more than 130 people signed up for the program and bikes are going out every day," said McFarren. "Some of the kids from TomTod were there to cut the ribbon."

There are 36 bikes in total and McFarren said other places are interested in being BikeShare locations, which are in areas that offer things to see and do as well as "trails for riding as a recreational asset adding a healthy quality of life," she said.

Many of the downtown Canton roads have bike lanes and it is a good way to get around. An example of use would be renting a bike at the Canton Garden Center and visiting the garden itself and from there a visitor would be able to ride to the Football Hall of Fame and McKinley's monument and museum.

Visitors can register using any mobile phone and a credit card. Bikes rent for $10 for six hours. As a library member, by visiting any of the Stark libraries or book mobiles you can register and receive a code to use the bikes at no charge. If you have signed up with a credit card it is easy to convert it to a free library membership by visiting any branch.

"It has been well received and we are excited about the program," said McFarren.

The bikes are available 24/7 at all the locations. Visit www.thesmartstore.org/bikesmart for more information.