Bike center coming to U campus

Construction for the bike center is expected to be completed by August.

Karl Stoerzinger fixes a bike Tuesday at the Midtown Bike Center.

Karl Stoerzinger fixes a bike Tuesday at the Midtown Bike Center.

Raghav Mehta

Breaking free from the mobs of bikes on campus during the school year, cyclists who are willing to pay will have a new, exclusive spot all to themselves beginning in August. Located in the Oak Street Parking Ramp, a 17,000-square-foot bike center will offer riders 24-hour secure bike parking, professional tune-ups and repairs and outreach courses to educate riders about urban and winter biking. Construction for the bike center is expected to be completed by August, but University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services is currently awaiting approval from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to begin building. The center, which will be open all year, is one of several projects included in the Bike Walk Twin Cities program. The program is a citywide initiative that aims to improve biking for Minneapolis riders by allocating funds from a $1.75 million grant provided by nonprofit organization Transit for Livable Communities. Accepting proposals from competing applicants throughout the city, TLC awarded the University $524,000 in funds in March 2009 to construct a campus bike center. TLC works to strengthen Minnesota transportation by organizing educational outreach programs and imploring residents to explore alternative modes of transportation such as Metro Transit and bicycling. âÄúWe are always on the lookout to improve biking on campus, and this is one way of doing it,âÄù said PTS bicycle coordinator Steve Sanders. While the department is in the process of determining membership fees, Sanders said the price for bike storage parking would probably be about $80 a year, the same price as a University bike locker rental. Sanders stressed the potential benefits for students. âÄúThere are a lot of educational things we plan on doing, and then thereâÄôs some more simple stuff like getting your bike fixed, secure bike parking and showers,âÄù Sanders said. Sanders said bike centers have risen in popularity in recent years and said PTS considered the idea after observing the success of Freewheel Midtown Bike Center. Freewheel, which opened in 2008, has become a hot spot for bicyclists traveling through the area and offers storage for rentals, repairs, locker rooms and showers. Wil Branstrud, a longtime cyclist, said he was intrigued by the centerâÄôs seemingly reasonable prices and fast service. âÄúI was amazed by how much stuff they had,âÄù Branstrud said. Employee Nick Partridge said the atmosphere and location are probably what appeal to cyclists the most. âÄúItâÄôs convenient to have a bike shop right on a bike path,âÄù Partridge said. Journalism sophomore Maggie Alt said she just started biking on campus but likes the idea of a center. âÄúIâÄôm not knowledgeable about bikes at all âĦ It would be really convenient,âÄù Alt said. The bike center is a campus facility but will be operated by professional bike mechanics from Minneapolis bicycle co-op The Hub.