New Bikeshare program off to a fast startUsers of Alexandria’s BikeShare system are off to a fast start. Since the program’s launch just over a month ago, users have collectively logged 1,503 miles, enough to theoretically reach Los Angeles, California.
Users of Alexandria’s BikeShare system are off to a fast start. Since the program’s launch just over a month ago, users have collectively logged 1,503 miles, enough to theoretically reach Los Angeles, California.
On April 24, Active Living Douglas County introduced bicycle sharing to Alexandria by purchasing four brightly colored green bicycles and placing them in a bicycle rack at Big Ole/Central Park.
Community members have been encouraged to use the bicycles to explore Alexandria and the Central Lakes Trail for free, all the while returning the bicycle to the rack for the next user.
“Users are really benefitting from the convenient location of the bikes in downtown Alexandria,” said Jessica Peterson with Active Living Douglas County.
During the first five weeks, bicycles have been spotted at local businesses like Caribou Coffee, SuperAmerica, Subway, Elden’s Fresh Foods and seen as far as downtown Osakis.
“The high mileage total that has been logged and the number of spottings in the community are real testimonies to the way the community has embraced BikeShare as a means of recreation and also transportation,” Peterson said.
Along with the success come challenges. A number of one-way rides have occurred, which requires someone to pick up an abandoned bicycle and return it to Big Ole/Central Park. That someone is frequently an Alexandria Parks Department worker or community members.
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, bicycle maintenance has also become a challenge. During the first 24 hours after making the bicycles available to the public, a total of 100 miles had already been logged.
“We knew with high usage rates that maintenance was going to be difficult,” Peterson said. As a result, small adjustments to the bicycles have been made to try to minimize maintenance costs, such as removing fragile fenders and chain guards.
Thus far, the changes seem to be helping to keep the bikes out of the shop and on the road, Peterson said.
Active Living Douglas County members are pleased to report that the four bicycles in the fleet today are the same four bicycles that were unveiled in late April.
“It appears that nearly all of the damage to the current fleet of bikes can be contributed to normal wear and tear or riders using the bikes in a manner that the bicycle is not equipped for,” Peterson said. BikeShare bicycles are not designed for off road riding or stunt riding, she added.
Through all of the successes and challenges, the BikeShare system has truly been a community effort, according to Peterson. Partners like Jake’s Bikes, The Bike and Fitness Company, Alexandria Parks Department and community members make the program work by chipping in to make bicycle repairs, corral abandoned bikes and simply be a watchful eye.
You can help by reporting damaged or abandoned bikes by calling or texting (320) 304-2929.
“With the community’s help, Alexandria’s BikeShare will successfully pedal into the future,” Peterson said.