“It gives Fillmore County residents the ability to check out a bike to have some fun, have access to transportation, or get some exercise,” Fillmore County Public Health Educator Brenda Pohlman stated about the new Bike Share Program which allows people to “check out” bikes to use.
When Pohlman heard of a grant to purchase bikes for public use through the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, or SHIP, she approached the Root River Trail Towns Organization to see if they were interested.
The Root River Trail Towns Organization, a non-profit and volunteer based organization that meets once a month, is made up of representatives from the nine towns along the Root River Bike Trail. Of those towns, Preston, Fountain, Harmony, and Rushford/Peterson all opted to apply for the Bike Share Program grant.
Each of the towns received five to seven men’s and women’s bikes along with helmets, locks, and a bike rack. The bikes are all branded with the Root River Trail Towns logo.
Anyone interested in using one of the bikes can do so at no cost. All that is needed is a driver’s license or other form of ID. A parent’s signature is needed for anyone under the age of 18. There are no reservations accepted for bikes, and they are available on a first come, first serve basis.
A maintenance program, which includes regular maintenance as well as any unexpected repair needs, has been set up with the Little River General Store in Lanesboro to service the bikes from all five towns.
“We thought the program would be nice for citizens who think they may like biking but don’t want to invest until they are sure they like it,” Root River Trail Towns representative Julie Gade from Fountain said. “Or, if someone had visitors they could borrow the bikes for an afternoon to show them the area.”
The six bicycles in Fountain are available for people to sign out from the Fountain City Offices. The program there was officially launched with a “Blessing of the Bikes” at the Fountain Lutheran Church in June. “We expect the bikes to be used into the fall season,” Gade said. “September and October seem to be very popular for biking as the weather is cooler.”
Preston’s bikes are being kept outside of the Preston City Offices and can be signed out there, although Tourism Director Gabby Kinneberg hopes that patrons will be able to check them out from the Preston Public Library by next summer, allowing people to use the bikes on weekends as well as during the week. Preston’s bike share program was launched with a ribbon cutting by the Minnesota Health Commissioner, Dr. Edward Ehlinger on July 31.
Harmony has six bikes and will be launching its program at some point in the near future. When they do, the bikes will be available to check out at the library.
The Rushford/Peterson area received seven bicycles through the grant which are available at the Rushford Public Library.
The response to the Bike Share Program has been good so far, and Kinneberg believes that the popularity of the bikes will only grow as the program matures.