Greenway bike center makes biking no sweat

Freewheel Midtown Bike Center
A new bike center will sit along the Midtown Greenway bike path. It'll offer cyclists storage space to park their bikes on a long- or short-term basis, shower facilities, repair and rental services. Kevin Ishaug, owner of Freewheel Bike Shop in Minneapolis, said the bike center will also serve as shelter for bikers when it rains and as a resting point to get a cup of coffee or refill water bottles.
Ambar Espinoza

The 2,500 riders who bike along the Midtown Greenway path each day will now have a resting point along the way either for their bikes or themselves. The Freewheel Midtown Bike Center will sit behind the Midtown Exchange along the Greenway. Jackie Wildflower lives near the Midtown Exchange and often uses the Greenway.

Jackie Wildflower
Jackie Wildflower says she'll appreciate having easy access to a bike center when she has a flat tire during her bike ride along the Midtown Greenway.
Nancy Rosenbaum

"I bet it will be rip roar in the summer. I'm not kidding, too," said Wildflower, who recently noticed the construction work around the bike center.

"No, actually I remember I biked past it the other day and I was like, 'That's a really good idea. I'm glad, because you know, people are getting flat tires all the time and they're like, 'Man, I have to go all the way over here to get my tire fixed.' So it'll be really great to have it easily accessible on the trail," Wildflower said. The bike center is a collaboration among the city of Minneapolis, the federal government and some private companies, including hospitals.

It will offer retail and rental services, including access to locker rooms, showers, after-hours contract storage and parking, and a coffee shop, all of which haven't been this accessible to bike commuters until now.

Kevin Ishaug , the owner of Freewheel Bike Shop in Minneapolis, said the rising cost of fuel, the sluggish economy, and people's growing environmental awareness pushed forward the bike center's opening.

"It's an unfortunate timing of circumstances, but I think we're in a position where we can provide solution to a lot of those problems," said Ishaug. "And it's not as difficult as people think. It's actually quite fun."

Kevin Ishaug
Kevin Ishaug is the owner of the Freewheel Bike Shop in Minneapolis and one of the project leaders of the the bike center.
Ambar Espinoza

Ishaug said the collapse of the I-35 Bridge has also made getting around the city a little bit difficult, so the services at the center are meant to encourage other modes of transportation. "And that's really the goal here to get people out of cars and onto their bike and on their feet," said Ishaug.

Ishaug said he's confident the bike center will help make that happen. He said more than two percent of all trips in Minneapolis are already taken by bicycles.

The people putting together the bike center expect to serve a large number of commuters who work around the neighborhood. They could store their bikes on a temporary basis for $2 a day. The folks at the center will make sure the bikes are safe to ride before commuters take off with them.

A shower will cost bikers $5. Those who bike year round could purchase an annual membership for $110. It'll include a number of services, like access to shower facilities and discounts on bike rentals.