Bike Center is a friendly gesture, but misses the mark

I attended the grand opening of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs new bike center on Thursday. Because of all the goals that were initially proposed for the center, I journeyed to Oak Street with high expectations.

The center was sold to the University as the âÄúgo-to facilityâÄù for the more than 4,000 bicycle riders around campus. The new center includes inside storage, showers and lockers for paying members.

After only 15 minutes of browsing, I left mostly disappointed. IâÄôm not sure how a total of three showers and a small steel cage enclosure at the edge of the parking deck âÄî exposed to the elements just as much as any outside rack âÄî constitutes a âÄúgo-toâÄù location for our massive cyclist community. 

Furthermore, the Oak Street Ramp is far away from the final campus destination of most commuters. While the service facility appeared well-equipped, its proximity to so many other bike shops makes it largely unnecessary. 

Almost all of the interior space of the facility is reserved as a sales floor for the Hub Bike Co-Op and is only useful to commuters in the case of an unexpected equipment catastrophe. In that case, a commuter is better off taking the bus home and doing some comparison shopping first. 

I see no evidence that the University steered the planning and development of this facility. Either that or they tried but completely misunderstood the needs of bike riders. Their funding, along with the $524,000 Transit for Livable Communities grant, appears to have been hijacked by our local bike co-op to build a subsidized store location.

To all bike commuters, save your $85 yearly membership cost to the Campus Bike Center and put it toward a semester pass for the Recreation Center âÄî or a better winter coat.